Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 104 (22, 49, 71)(Smith 34, Thomson 24, Fletcher 17)
Plymouth Raiders 90 (24, 45, 66)(Bailer 25, Sturt 18, Dixon 14)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle’s remarkable resilience was on display once again as they overcame a battling Plymouth Raiders side 104-90 in the BBL Championship at Sport Central on Friday.
Without frontcourt focal points Scott Martin and Darius Defoe it was left to Charles Smith to once again drive the defending champions on.
And the 40-year-old answered the call in emphatic fashion.
Smith finished with 34 points and 16 rebounds as he was required to play for more than 37 minutes.
Andy Thomson also chipped in with 24 points as the hosts responded to falling behind late in the third quarter with a 9-0 run to close the period and seize control.
From there the all-conquering Eagles showed their peerless game management to get over the line despite just six players seeing more than five-and-a-half minutes of playing time.
Eagles improve to a 20-2 mark and maintain their advantage at the top of the BBL Championship ahead of Sunday’s BBL Trophy Semi-Final second leg against Worcester Wolves.
Raiders were themselves down to just seven active players with the influential Dante Williams missing out and player-coach Daryl Corletto playing all 40 minutes.
Duane Bailey paced the south coast club with 25 points and they face Surrey Scorchers in a key battle in the race for the BBL Play-Offs on Sunday.