Newcastle Eagles 95 (Defoe 19, Smith 18, Maddox 14)
Cheshire 69 (Marks 17, Myers 13, Bland/Haskins 12)

Newcastle Eagles closed the gap on the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders to two points at the top of the BBL Championship thanks to an impressive 95-69 victory over Cheshire at Sport Central on Friday night.

A 10-2 start to the game for the Eagles signalled the home side’s intent to begin quickly and try to blow out their opponents in the opening quarter, but Cheshire managed to steady things midway through the period as an Alif Bland basket got them to within seven points at 17-10, but four points from Charles Smith kept the Eagles on track as they ended the quarter strongly to lead 23-13 after the opening stanza.

In the second period, Cheshire tried to get themselves back into the contest, but a strong 11-3 burst from the Eagles saw the home side open up a 23-point advantage at 46-23 with less than two minutes remaining in the half. Despite the visitors bagging the final five points of the second period, the home side headed into the locker rooms with a seemingly comfortable 18 point lead at 46-28 at the half.

In the second half, a 7-2 tear from the home side gave the Eagles a 31-point lead at 63-32 midway through the third quarter. The visitors tried valiantly to get themselves back into the contest for the remainder of the period, but they could only close the gap slightly by the end of the quarter as the home side continued to enjoy things and lead 74-47 heading into the final stanza.

In the final quarter, the visitors tried valiantly to get themselves back into the contest, and managed to close the gap to 17 points at 83-66 off the back of a 13-2 burst midway through the final period, but that was as close as they would get as the Eagles finished the game strongly to secure the all-important victory.

Darius Defoe (pictured) was the main man for the Eagles as he bagged a game-high 19 points in the victory, while Chez Marks led Cheshire’s scoring with 17 points personal.