Essex Rebels1924171272Loss
Newcastle Eagles Women3017212088Win

The Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles produced their best performance of the season on the road in Colchester to record a superb road victory against the Essex Rebels on Saturday night. A truly spectacular effort that was a real statement of intent for the rest of the season.

A first win against a side in the top five not only consolidated the Eagles position in the standings but showed the talent and ability they have to make a great run towards the end of the campaign. This was undoubtedly the sort of win and display that Head Coach Matt Newby has been looking for.

Katie Nolan scored a game high 26 points. (Photos: Abbie Orwin)

His side have shown glimpses since his arrival on Tyneside but consistency and playing for a full forty minutes have always been two of the key ingredients the experienced play-caller has been trying to wrest from his charges.

That moment arrived in style at the University of Essex where a committed team effort left the Rebels stunned. This Essex side have been heavily feted to make a dent in the upper echelon of the Women’s Basketball League and had won seven-in-a-row going into the game.

They were undoubtedly outside of London the form team of the League and Newcastle knew it was going to be a difficult task particular as the Eagles were without USA Forward Jada Dapaa through injury. The call to Dapaa’s teammates was ‘next woman up,’ and they answered it emphatically.

Newcastle were led by their two USA power forwards Katie Nolan and Tierra Hodges who both had massive double-doubles adding 13 and 14 rebounds respectively to their double-digit scoring. Then there was influential point guard Lauren Saiki who guided the team superbly all game.

But in truth all the Eagles’ players contributed with their effort and commitment shown by their excellent rebounding effort that saw them out board Essex 54 – 32 as well as dish out 22 assists to aid their scoring.

Abby Lowe, Captain Marina Fernandez and Zoe Willis being the main back-up to the power three that helped get Newcastle a win that would have made the long trip down and especially home all the more worthwhile.

Essex actually opened the game the better of the two sides and within two minutes of the tip-off had established a six-point lead at 10 – 4. However, Saiki began to pull the strings and Hodges and Nolan began pounding away inside and just under halfway through the first, Newcastle were level at 17 – 17.

Lauren Saiki ended the game with 15 points and 6 assists. (Photos: Abbie Orwin)

It was then that they turned the screw for the first time with a devasting 17 points to 2 close out of the first period that gave them their first double-digit lead of the night. A further eight points unanswered in the second had Newcastle up by sixteen at one stage before the Rebels rallied.

They cut the gap to eight points and although initially Newby’s side following a time-out responded, Essex were in the groove and produced a strong finish to the half sending the side’s into the locker rooms with Eagles only leading by 47 to 43.

A good start to the second half by Newcastle pushed that to nine points but an 11 – 2 run by the home side saw them draw level at 60-points each. However, Newcastle steadied and scored the last eight points of the third.

Then late on in the final quarter with only six points between the teams, the Eagles produced the decisive run. Ten points unanswered sealing the deal on a memorable win and one that will breed confidence going forward.