Newcastle Eagles failed to build on the previous night’s 8-point win against Surrey as the Scorchers turned the tables and turned on the style in the second of two back-to-back pre-season clashes.
Even an eye-catching 22 points from former Mean Green Javion Hamlet couldn’t save Marc Steutel’s men from a heavy homecourt loss.
And the new man at the helm will be looking for a positive response from his rebooted roster when USA Select roll into town on Tuesday.
Of Newcastle’s seven close-season signings only Ben Mockford sat out the second of five friendlies organised to usher in the Steutel era.
The Great Britain guard returned from a testing Eurobasket campaign on Friday and will be eased back into action at his latest BBL club following a much-needed break.
Whether Mockford’s involvement could have influenced a surprisingly feisty clash — punctuated by a dizzying 47 fouls — is open to debate.
But the Eagles’ failure to contain red hot Surrey pair Jalen Ray and Tayo Ogendengbe cost the hosts dearly as the sizzling Scorchers pair combined for 51 points.
Newcastle suffered an early blow when Rowell Graham-Bell fell awkwardly under the glass, slamming the back wall in agony.
Less than four minutes into his Eagles debut the versatile forward signalled his game was over.
And Graham-Bell headed straight for the locker room before reappearing at the quarter break with his left knee heavily iced.
There was another nervy moment minutes later when veteran Darius Defoe requested treatment on a knee injury of his own.
But the BBL’s most successful player was back on court within 40 seconds and with the hosts in desperate need of some muscle under the boards.
A strongarm Surrey side was in no mood to surrender territory in the paint and out-rebounded Newcastle 25-11 before the break.
Time and time again the visitors denied the Eagles a second chance shot as Steutel’s men struggled to match up to the muscular Scorchers.
And had it not been for an offensive masterclass from Hamlet, the men in black would have been cut further adrift at the half.
The busy guard’s 18 points before the break proved to be the major talking point during an otherwise frustrating opening 20 minutes.
Hamlet played all but 48 seconds of the first half but his stellar contribution couldn’t prevent Surrey from opening up a 49-30 lead heading into the third quarter.
Newcastle required greater productivity at the offensive end (the Eagles converted just nine of 33 first half field goals) and increased intensity under the defensive glass in order to turn a testing pre-season clash in their favour.
But despite a strong start to the second half — with former Worcester Wolves forward Jermel Kennedy starting to get a grip on the game — Steutel’s men failed to make inroads into the Scorchers’ impressive lead.
And Lloyd Gardner’s side headed into the fourth quarter 75-47 in front and on course for a comfortable win following the previous night’s behind-closed-doors defeat.
The Eagles are back on court this coming Tuesday night when the touring USA Select team visit the Vertu Motors Arena. Tickets are available now from the box office to support the team.