Worcester Wolves 88 (19,39,61) (Paez 30, Brown 22, Disy/Funn 10)
Newcastle Eagles 108 (33,59,83) (Smith 17, Moore 16, Stewart 15)
The Newcastle Eagles moved clear at the top of the BBL Championship table as they beat the Worcester Wolves 88-108. The Eagles have now won seven of the eight BBL meetings between these teams, with all of those being by double figures, and avenged last season’s defeat in the Midlands.
The Eagles had seven players who scored in double figures, led by Charles Smith’s 17 points and 16 from Trey Moore, whilst the Wolves had to rely on Anthony Paez’s second straight 30+ game and 22 points with 18 rebounds from Justin Brown.
Newcastle had the better of a high-scoring first quarter as they raced out to a 5-18 lead after 5 early points from Moore, and 4 each for big-men Stewart and Defoe. Anthony Paez kept the Wolves within touching distance as he had 10 early points, including a three-pointer that narrowed the gap to 17-25. However, an 8-2 finish to the quarter, including 4 points for player-coach Fab Flournoy, saw the Eagles 19-33 up after the opening ten minutes.
The hosts failed to make much progress in the second stanza as the Eagles opened with a 10-2 burst that included a three-pointer for Charles Smith and was capped with a Tafari Toney score. Skouson Harker scored back-to-back baskets as the Wolves came back with a 7-2 run, only for the Eagles to score the next 6 points to take a 28-51 lead on a Stewart score as their big-men continued to succeed inside – Defoe also had 6 points in the quarter. The teams traded baskets up to half-time, and Trey Moore scored with their final possession to make the lead twenty points at 39-59
Justin Brown opened the third quarter with a dunk, only for the Eagles to make a 6-2 run to push the score out to 43-65. The teams traded baskets and it was Brown that kept the Wolves ticking over as he scored 8 straight points for his team, but an Andrew Bridge triple maintained the lead at 53-77 for the Eagles. Harker fouled out towards the end of the third, and his team still trailed by more than twenty points at 61-83 going into the decisive stanza.
The Wolves came out firing in the fourth quarter as Paez hit five quick points, but the Eagles maintained their lead from the free-throw line and another Smith triple restored the twenty point advantage. With six minutes to go the Wolves made a late effort to get back in the game with an 8-2 tear that made the score 77-93, but five more made free-throws and a three-pointer from Flournoy saw the Eagles pass the 100 mark and they saw the last two minutes out, having made 15 foul shots in the quarter.