BBL Cup Quarter-Final
Newcastle Eagles 83 (20, 35, 68) (Smith 22, Fletcher 20, Martin 14)
Leeds Force 66 (12, 32, 45) (Mikulic 14, Hall 13, McCann 11)
Newcastle Eagles avoided a BBL Cup upset by improving in the second half to overcome Leeds Force 83-66 at Sport Central on Friday and book their spot in the semi-finals.
League leaders Eagles lost last season’s final in heart-breaking fashion but were not to be denied a place in the final four despite a strong first-half showing from bottom club Force.
The BBL rookies stuck with their more experienced opponents behind some impressive post play from Will Hall, who had 10 points in the first-half to keep his team with three at the halfway stage.
But Eagles found another gear after the break and created better looks at the basket on a more consistent basis.
This good start was underlined by a Charles Smith triple midway through the third period which opened up a 15-point gap and put the game beyond the visitors.
Smith finished with a game-high 22 points with Rahmon Fletched adding 20 while Scott Martin recorded a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double as Branimir Mikulic led Force’s effort with 14.
The result stretched Eagles’ winning run to seven games and, although Force were comfortably beaten in the end, coach Matt Newby will no doubt take positives from their first-half performance in particular.