BBL Trophy, Quarter Final
Leicester Riders 104 (21,49,78) (Clark 23, Sullivan 14, Walker 13)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 69 (26,43,60) (Fletcher 20, Parks 16, Martin 13)
Leicester Riders scored a record victory, 104-69, over Esh Group Eagles Newcastle to reach the BBL Trophy semi-finals on Tuesday night. It is their biggest winning margin over the Eagles – whom they have met in the last two Trophy Finals, splitting them – in 119 BBL meetings between the teams.
Brandon Clark led them to their fifth win in the last six meetings with this opposition, posting an impressive 23 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds; he was one of six Riders in double-figures.
But the hosts had to dig themselves out of an initial hole, as Rahmon Fletcher and Deondre Parks set the pace in a lightning start, scoring 11 first quarter points each – Parks gunning a trio of three-pointers – as Eagles led 26-21.
Clark soon showed that Leicester’s backcourt could match them, though, as he inspired a 10-2 start to the second stanza and Riders took the lead, for good, at 33-29 on his second basket in that run.
Clark scored twice more and, equally importantly, Riders stopped their previously free-scoring backcourt opponents, before Fletcher sat down on his third foul. The hosts led 49-43 at the half as Clark hit his twelfth point on the buzzer.
And he opened a third quarter that Riders would go on to dominate. Shane Walker and Taylor King added quick three-pointers and the lead reached double-digits at 59-47 on an 8-2 run.
Conner Washington then scored five in a row, including drawing the ‘and-one’ foul on Fletcher, sending him back to the bench and making the score 74-59.
The game was settled when Eric Robertson opened the fourth with two quick triples in a 10-0 start, and Riders reached their biggest ever winning margin over Eagles, and the century, when, fittingly, Clark’s triple made it 100-67.
Riders – defending the BBL Trophy crown and on a run of nine straight wins – shot 60% from the field and out-rebounded the Eagles, who were missing big man Darius Defoe and have now lost three of their last four, by 51-27 while scoring 70 of their points in the paint.