The Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles got their Women’s British Basketball League campaign off to a flying start down in Manchester on Sunday. An excellent second half effort and in particular third quarter paving the way for the win.
Newcastle also won through adversity showing excellent character throughout a tough 40 minutes where their togetherness and team spirit really shone through after they lost USA point guard Cherita Daugherty through injury in the first quarter.
Daugherty who has been recruited to run this Eagles side went down heavily under a challenge and was unable to return for any further playing time. It meant Newcastle were effectively two import spots down with Celena Tayborn already having left the team.
But those that came on to the court for Head Coach Noelia Cacheiro’s side are all familiar with each other after having played together last season. That chemistry, camaraderie and knowledge certainly helped the team as the game wore on.
Katie Nolan was immense inside for Newcastle at both ends of the floor and led the scoring and rebounding for her side in an MVP double-double performance. She added 12 rebounds to her game high 26 points.
Capitano Fantastico Marina Fernandez covered superbly in Daugherty’s absence adding 7 assists and 4 rebounds to her 17 point haul which included back-to-back crucial triples in that third quarter.
Abby Lowe was her usual bundle of energy and drive as she also netted double figures and the contributions of Courtney Clasen, Zoe Willis and Chloe Gaynor were also crucial to the Eagles cause.
Manchester had started the brighter in the first quarter and led by seven until Willis and Fernandez closed the period out with the last five points of the period to take Newcastle within two.
From their it was entertaining basketball with virtually nothing to chose between the sides as the lead bounced backwards and forwards. Giants finding themselves up after a level period 33 – 31 as the teams went to the locker rooms.
The home side came out the stronger when the game got underway in the second half and once again established an early 7-point lead and with 4:52 to go in the period led 48 – 43. That’s when Newcastle kicked into overdrive.
Sixteen unanswered points bookended by triples from Lowe who started it and Clasen who closed it saw the Eagles soar into a 59 – 48 lead with the final ten minutes to play. From there it was about game management for Newcastle in the last period.
Newcastle continued their unanswered run with the opening four points of the final quarter to lead by 15 points. Manchester though showed giant character to force their way back into the contest and were within 4 points at 62 – 66.
But the Eagles had Nolan. Her powerful presence inside could not be stopped nor denied as she dominated the paint and brushed the Giants aside to confirm a winning start to the 2023/24 season for Newcastle on the road and make for a happy ride home.
Get tickets now for the Eagles women’s home season opening game this Saturday night against Caledonia Gladiators at the Vertu Motors Arena from the box office.