Whether it was the ferocity of Friday night’s game against Leicester still in their bodies or the tiredness of the long journey down south in their legs, the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles just couldn’t find the energy to make it back-to-back wins in Bristol last night.
Tough, tough scheduling meant the Eagles had virtually no time to soak up the win against Leicester and build on that victory as they were sent south to face a Bristol side flying in the face of five consecutive wins in all competitions.
That they made it six and moved into second place in the British Basketball League was as much down to their superior power inside and on the glass as Newcastle struggled all game to stay the pace with them.
Not that Marc Steutel’s men were without positives. For all of the first half they were right there matching Bristol toe-to-toe but a strong Flyers third period and start to the fourth was ultimately the difference between the two side.
Sometimes statistics can be read and interpreted to make whatever people want them too. Last night’s stats though were very telling for a Newcastle side still searching for a true identity in what is a hectic and brutal start to the season.
They lost all four quarters. They were outrebounded 54 – 28 giving up 22 offensive boards and 27 second chance points as the home side outscored them 50 points to 32 in the paint.
Bristol’s Tevin Olison was on fire for 27 points and there were excellent double-doubles for powerful forwards Brad Greene and ex-Eagle Rowell Graham-Bell as five home players made it into double figures and dominated inside all game.
For Newcastle there was the explosive presence of Rickey McGill who had his second 30+ points game in as many days. His main support coming from Jordan Johnson as well as Devin Whitfield getting into double figures.
But with Josh Ward-Hibbert clearly carrying the effects of a niggling injury that severely restricted his minutes and his fellow forwards not being able to pick up the slack it was a difficult night for the Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles.
Bristol made a strong start to the first quarter but Newcastle fought back and whilst Flyers were always in front, Stuetel’s men were very much in the contest. Back-to-back triples by McGill actually gave them a lead in the second period.
Johnson increased the lead to four at 33 – 29 but that was as good as it got for the Eagles as Bristol closed out the first half 49 – 44 ahead and build on that during the the third quarter and early part of the final ten minutes.
The lead got to 21 points at one stage but an excellent never-say-die effort from McGill who ended the game with all nine points on a final Eagles 9 – 2 run got them within 14 points at the final buzzer.
Too little too late though as Newcastle faced a long journey home contemplating that their schedule doesn’t get much easier with the unbeaten powerhouse London Lions next on the horizon at the Vertu Motors Arena this coming Friday, 27th October. Tickets are available from the box office now.