Newcastle Eagles Women1818312390Win
Durham Palatinates2114191973Loss

Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles took the bragging rights in the North East with a hard fought thrilling win in a tough game of basketball at the Vertu Motors Arena on Saturday night.

Going into the game the teams had looked very evenly matched with their respective results so far this season. However, there was quite a sub-plot going on prior to tip-off on both sides of the court.

Watch the full game:


Newcastle had finally found two pieces to fit into their jigsaw after considering their recruitment options and it was going to be interesting to see if they are the final two pieces they’ve been searching for.

Durham on the other hand have been running a short playing roster all season and had to do without stand-out star Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby for this encounter. It seemed as though the balance was tipped in The Eagles favour if their two new recruits settled quickly.

Eagles though could also point to both Courtney Clasen and Princess Adeogun being unavailable to take any part in the game which meant having new players available was always going to be crucial. In the end it was exactly that which saw Newcastle home.

Ex-Cardiff Met Archer Lauren Saiki has played the last two seasons in the Women’s British Basketball League and has proved to be a consistently high performing point guard who led the League in assists last season.

Our two newest Eagles Tierra Hodges (#15) and Lauren Saiki (#10) had an immediate impact in The Derby. (Photos: Gary Forster)

Tierra Hodges is a powerful athletic scorer and rebounder with an impressive CV behind her and looked the sort of impact player that can help at both ends of the floor. Both were vital additions to the Eagles squad.

For Durham, Canadian Janika Griffith-Wallace has made an explosive start to life in top-flight British basketball. It’s fair to say that at the end of a pulsating forty minutes all had played their part in a very entertaining encounter.

Despite Newcastle netting the first five points of the game, Durham rallied and shrugged off the loss of Ottewill-Soulsby to go from 10 – 6 down take the lead on five points from Griffith-Wallace who was shooting the ball at every opportunity.

She was given great support from Katie Bennett you had a good start to the game and kept it going throughout and by the end of the first Durham were perhaps surprisingly in front at 21 – 18.

Marina Fernandez hit five of nine 3-point attempts. (Photos: Gary Forster)

In the second there was little in it although Newcastle threatened to make the first break. Marina Fernandez giving the home side a three-point lead with a triple at 28 – 25. It was then that Hodges went to work.

She smoothly and strongly drove to the basket netting eight Eagles points in a row. Griffith-Wallace kept responding to keep Durham in the contest and when Elle Hendershot netted a couple of free throws it brought Palatinates back within one.

It was everything to play for in the second half with Eagles narrow 36 – 35 lead established due to an 18 – 14 ten-minute period. Fernandez and Nolan adding good support.

The third quarter was where Newcastle made the decisive thrust. Hodges had ten points in the third and when Fernandez hit back-to-back triples with growing assistance from Saiki, Eagles led 44 – 37.

Abby Lowe was proving a real pest to Durham often disrupting their offence intentions and Eagles kept pushing little scoring bursts to continue to nudge ahead. A Nolan deuce taking their lead to sixteen at one stage before Griffith-Wallace hit another triple to cu the deficit to thirteen going into the final period.

Nolan continued to hoover up offensive rebounds and converting put backs. Chloe Gaynor was controlling the defensive boards for Eagles and helping them keep Durham at bay. The visitors tried to rally but never ever got closer than ten at any stage.

New head coach Matt Newby got his first win at the helm of our Eagles. (Photos: Gary Forster)

Hodges was irresistible for Newcastle and down the stretch took the game over, Converting four free-throws to end the game with a career-high 30 points adding in ten rebounds for a superb double-double as The Eagles took a deserved victory.

Perhaps the biggest compliment that could be paid to the Hodges-Saiki effect was the way the others played around them. Fernandez had 5 triples on her way to 21 points adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists.

Nolan joined Hodges in the double-double camp with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Gaynor was only two points shy of being the third Eagle to compile a double-double. Her contribution was a very good 8 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists.

Abby Lowe had 9 points and was her usual infectious bundle of energy. Saiki was a little bit disappointed to only net 4 points but her Coach and Teammates will be delighted with her point guard contribution of 8 assists.

So, a first win for Head Coach Matt Newby as an Eagle. Debut wins for Saiki and Hodges and a very effective efficient performance all-round from the team.

Next up is the winless Cardiff Met Archers next Saturday 9th December in the Vertu Motors Arena and tickets are available now from the box office.