Everton Tigers 82 (16,39,65) (Smith 25, Bailey 19, Midgley 11)
Newcastle Eagles 88 (23,47,66) (Moore 20, Defoe 20, Bridge 20)
Newcastle Eagles will take a six point advantage into the second leg of their BBL Trophy semi-final against Everton Tigers on Friday after beating the Merseyside club 82-88 on the road.
Fab Flournoy’s team had the better of the match and led by as many as 13 in the second quarter before being pegged back. A 7-0 burst over the last 56 seconds by Eagles proved to be the difference between the two sides.
The Eagles were the first to hit their stride as Andrew Bridge’s three opening the scoring on the way to a 2-8 lead.
Tigers roared back to take their first lead of the match at 10-8 but it was all Newcastle for the rest of the first quarter as threes from Fab Flournoy and another from Bridge gave the visitors a 16-23 lead after ten minutes.
A 9-4 burst to start the second period handed Newcastle a 12 point lead at 20-32 midway through the stanza. Tigers trimmed the deficit to seven on Josh Gross’s layup (31-38) and again on James Jones’s three (34-41).
The fight back was short lived though as a 6-0 burst by Eagles gave them their biggest lead of the half (34-47) before a two by former Eagles Richard Midgley and a three on the half time buzzer by Andre Smith narrowed the gap to 39-47.
Tafari Toney made it a double digit lead early in the third quarter, but it was Everton who dominated the rest of the action. A 16-5 run, with seven points from Midgley, gave Everton the lead (55-54).
Tigers couldn’t build on this momentum though and the lead changed hand several times throughout the rest of the quarter with Newcastle ending it 65-66 in front.
A 12-2 Everton run gave the hosts their biggest lead of the night (75-68) at the start of the fourth quarter. The Eagles replied immediately with a 9-2 run of their own to tie the match at 77-77.
From there on neither side could break from the other until Bridge’s ‘and one’ gave the Eagles the lead for good at 82-84. Four free throws by Trey Moore completed the scoring and gave Newcastle a six point margin to defend on Tyneside later in the week.