BBL Championship

Newcastle Eagles 88 (Chapman 20, Defoe 18, Huffman 17)
Manchester Giants 67 (Eaves 15, Watts 10, Aliu 9)

The Newcastle Eagles have won seven of their last eight games and strengthen their position at the summit of the BBL Championship table after a dominant second half performance saw them beat the Manchester Giants 88-67. For the visitors, it was a first defeat in three, although they have still not won on the road this season, falling for a second time in Newcastle.

The Eagles were led by Joe Chapman’s 20 points, with two big double-doubles from Darius Defoe (18 points and 12 rebounds) and Kareem Maddox (14 and 18). Every player on the roster scored for the Giants, but only Ben Eaves (15) and David Watts (10) could make it into double-figures.

The Giants had the better of the first quarter and came storming out of the blocks to lead 0-5 as Watts opened the scoring with a three-pointer to set the tone for the early exchanges; only minutes later the Giants led by double-figures at 4-14 with Watts scoring again and James Jones connecting from beyond the arc. But the Eagles called timeout soon after and retained their poise: from 9-19 they rattled off 7 points in a row, including a triple from Damon Huffman; and they prevented the Giants scoring in the last four minutes of the first quarter to narrow the deficit to 17-19.

The Eagles tied the game through Darius Defoe with the first score of the second quarter and their comeback was complete when Anthony Martin made it 21-20 soon after. Huffman did make another three-pointer before the Giants eventually halted Newcastle’s momentum with a 7-1 run initiated by Watts’ triple to snatch the lead back. And the game remained close up to the half, with five ties and six lead changes until Huffman struck again with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to put the hosts back in the ascendancy at 41-38. And that momentum was carried into the third quarter.

The Eagles had the better of a slow-scoring start to the second half with Chapman, Defoe and Maddox registering the only scores in the first three and a half minutes as they led 49-42, establishing a cushion for the first time in the game. And that was the foundation upon which they built to go on and win the game as their run continued out to 60-46, with Defoe scoring 4 more.

The Eagles had doubled their visitors’ score in the third quarter, and led 65-50 at the opening of the fourth. And Joe Chapman opened the final period with a three-pointer to all-but-bury the Giants. They continued to forge ahead, and the lead peaked at 25, 88-63, when Eddie Matthew scored with a minute remaining.