Newcastle Eagles Women2324131272Win
Nottingham Wildcats1419132369Loss

With 36 seconds left of the third quarter Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles guard/forward Zoe Willis made a two-point turnaround jump shot to give her side their biggest lead of the night at 60 – 41.

Eight minutes and 47 seconds later with 1:49 left to play in the final quarter, Joice Leavold’s two-point jump shot gave Nottingham Wildcats their only lead of the night at 67 – 66 to complete a remarkable turnaround that no-one had seen coming.

Luckily for Newcastle, Willis stepped up again and hit a dagger triple from the left corner that took the Eagles back in front and in a frantic and chaotic finish, they took a hugely vital win in the playoff race.

At the sound of the final buzzer, Newcastle’s subdued and muted celebrations at managing to take the W probably summed up the feeling in the Vertu Motors Arena as a sense of disbelief turned to full-on relief.

Our Eagles Women survived a late comeback from Nottingham Wildcats. (Photos: Gary Forster)

For thirty minutes of the game Head Coach Matt Newby’s Eagles looked to be coasting to a deserved victory. But a combination of turnovers, a loss of discipline and a sense of frustration almost handed Wildcats an unlikely win.

Willis who had a season high ten points and stepped up when needed, summed up her side’s feelings at the end of a turbulent encounter.

“It was a must-win. We came out very strong in the first half and in the second we kind of had our dips but managed to get it over the line eventually. I think we made it difficult for ourselves and they didn’t earn that comeback.”

“We had many areas that came down to individual and team mistakes turning over the ball in areas where we shouldn’t. Being composed in times down the stretch when we needed to be and weren’t and we have to do a better job of game management.”

The Eagles had to do without new USA forward Jada Dapaa who has looked a great addition to the was ruled out of the game and possibly a long stretch on the sidelines.

But with Katie Nolan in dominant form from the off, Newcastle had sprinted out of the blocks at the beginning of the game with a magnificent 13 points to one start that gave them the cushion they needed to build a great platform for the contest.

Although Nottingham did improve and hit back the Eagles looked comfortable at half-time heading to the locker room 47 points to 33 ahead. That comfort factor grew during the third quarter as they established that 19-point lead before the wild Wildcats comeback.

Newcastle though  somehow held on to pick up their fifth win of the season and for now consolidate their playoff position as they stand 6th in the standings.

Eagles Women sit in a play-off position. (Photos: Gary Forster)

Nolan who actually took the MVP honours stressed the importance of such a big win.

“I think we got a little bit frustrated as a team disagreeing with some of the calls that were happening which got in our heads. But luckily we’re a pretty close-knit group of people so we were able to come together and say it is what it is and it’s our basketball that we have to play.”

“We stuck together and stuck that one out which was really big for us. A lot of our team stepped up. The scoring distribution was even and we had a lot of assists and manged to get the win in the end.”

There are more games to come and the Eagles will undoubtedly have to be better if they are to pick up more wins but for now they take this win and breathe a little easier.