BBL Championship
Leeds Force 73 (17, 38, 54) (Marsden 14, Bullard 13, Harris 10)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 85 (21, 47, 66) (Fletcher 20, Martin 14, Smith 14)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle stood up to a stiff test from Leeds Force to prevail 85-73 at Carnegie Sports Centre on Friday and complete the perfect preparation for Sunday’s BBL Cup Semi-Final.
Eagles stretched their unbeaten league start to 14 games, but were made to work for it as their hosts refused to go away.
The league leaders travel to Cheshire Phoenix in the first leg of their last four BBL Cup tie on Sunday, and will do so with Rahmon Fletcher firing on all cylinders.
It was the point guard’s turn to step up and produce a big performance, once again, as he controlled the game and went for 20 points off 6-of-10 shooting.
Force were never in front but pulled level at 30 late in the second quarter off the Armand Anebo jumper, only for Fletcher to spark a quick-fire 9-0 Eagles run, which allowed them to regain the upper hand.
From there, the reigning champions were always in control, if not out of sight until Joe Chapman’s three-pointer restored the double-digit lead with less five minutes to play.
It is a third straight defeat for Matt Newby’s side, who slip to a 5-9 record, despite five players scoring double figures, Rob Marsden leading the way with 14 points.