Newcastle Eagles Women177191457Loss
Leicester Riders Women1221143077Win

The Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles will look back on Saturday night’s home defeat against Leicester Riders, scratch their heads and wonder quite how they came out of it on the back of a 20-point loss.

At times Newcastle without doubt played some of their best defensive basketball of the season and until deep in the final quarter were in with a chance of taking a surprise win against one of the Women’s British Basketball League powerhouses.

Eagles Women were only trailing by 4 at the end of the 3rd Quarter. (Photos: Gary Forster)

Leicester had come into the game having only lost twice in the League all season. Both times against the all-conquering London Lions. The Eagles meanwhile came in on the back of three straight losses and have only won three league games all season.

But for long periods in a game that see-sawed quite dramatically Newcastle were right there and with every chance until a crucial and astonishing period late in the final period that swung the game dramatically in favour of the visitor’s.

With 6:49 to go in the final ten minutes Eagles Captain Marina Fernandez nailed a triple to bring her side back to within a point at 51 – 52. At that stage it reflected the pattern of the game where both sides had dominant periods but neither side could pull away.

But the next 4 minutes and seven seconds were hard for anyone on either side to quite believe as Riders suddenly clicked into over drive and all the hard defensive work Newcastle had done fell apart.

Turnovers and better offensive transition from Leicester to Newcastle’s defensive transition suddenly saw Riders get the shots they wanted with the time they needed. They required no second invitation.

Netting three triples and some driving lay-ups coupled with a foul shot or two they suddenly couldn’t miss as the Eagles basket seemed to widen at every penetrating Leicester offence.

An incredible 21-point unanswered run completely transformed the game and took Leicester in the end to a win that on paper looks far mor comfortable than it actually was.

Our Eagles Women are aiming to reach the play-offs. (Photos: Gary Forster)

Head Coach Matt Newby, his Assistant Luke Orwin and his players looking totally bemused and perplexed at the almost unbelievable turn of events that leaves Newcastle still searching for a first win of 2024.

Yet, it had all started so well for The Eagles who flew out of the blocks showing good offensive rhythm and stellar defence to lead the first quarter by as many as seven points after a 9 – 2 run.

Even deep into the second they still had a seven-point lead when Chloe Gaynor hit a 3-ball to stop a Leicester run. But perhaps Leicester gave The Eagles a warning what they were capable of with an 18-point unanswered run to take an 11-point lead.

Tierra Hodges stopped the Riders run with a deuce and the sides went into the locker rooms with the visitor’s leading by nine at 33 – 24.

Riders looked fairly comfortable as the third quarter opened but Hodges, a real find for Newcastle, showed great leadership and drive to help her teammates to a 12 – 4 run to end the third period only four points down at 43 – 47.

As the final period opened it was, seemingly, anybody’s guess as to who would take the victory and certainly Newcastle had every right to think they had a big chance particularly when Fernandez took them to within a point of The Riders.

Then, we had that period where everything went right for Leicester and Newcastle could do nothing to stop it and had to succumb to the relentless Riders run.

Hodges once again led the Eagles scoring being the only player in double-figures with 20 points and adding 9 rebounds. Gaynor had 9 points, all triples whilst Katie Nolan battled hard for 8 points and 9 rebounds.

Lauren Saiki provided a game high of 5 assists. (Photos: Gary Forster)

New signing Jada Dapaa showed flashes of promise and ability to record 7 points and 4 rebounds but will need more time to acclimatise to the League and her teammates before a full assessment can be made on what impact she can have.

For Newcastle though there’s no time to lick their wounds or have a long inquest. That will surely come but first they have to re-group and try to bounce back immediately. They face a Nottingham Wildcats side on Sunday evening with a 5:00pm tip-off.

Both sides now have a 3 wins eight losses record after Nottingham also lost on Saturday at Essex Rebels. With both Newcastle and Wildcats having play-off aspirations it will be a hugely important clash for them both.