Lightning struck twice for luckless Newcastle as another narrow loss on the road capped a miserable weekend for Marc Steutel’s men.

The crestfallen Eagles returned to Tyneside with nothing to show from two winnable games at Bristol and Plymouth.

But Steutel will look back on a fruitless 825-mile round trip with a mixture of frustration and pride as the men in black battled hard to bring home the points.

Newcastle took the homecourt Patriots into overtime at a packed Pavilions before finally running out of gas in the face of Paul James’ relentless roster.

And it was another case of what might have been for the vanquished visitors less than 48 hours after a six-point defeat in Bristol.

The harsh reality of a costly trip is that the Eagles failed to make up any ground on eighth-placed Sheffield Sharks.

And succumbing to Plymouth means Newcastle are no closer to reeling in a Patriots side that’s faced its own crisis of confidence since the turn of the year.

Just where that leaves Steutel’s men heading into this weekend’s international break is anyone’s guess.

But time is running out if the BBL’s most decorated franchise is to launch a late run for the playoffs and threaten any kind of upset in the postseason.

A thrilling advert for BBL basketball started with a bang as both teams slotted into their offensive rhythm early on.

Plymouth played with a spring in their step despite coming through an exhausting overtime clash with basement club Surrey on Friday.

But the Eagles — paced by GB veteran Kyle Johnson — gave as good as they got only to trail 27-22 heading into the second quarter. 

2023-02-17 First Q x Newcastle Eagles-4-X3
Javion Hamlet and Hasahn French try and break down the Patriots defence. (Photo credit: Plymouth City Patriots)

A Darius Defoe three-point play sparked a frenetic restart before the hosts began to lock down on offence and control the game.

Within the blink of an eye, the free-scoring Patriots opened up a 10-point lead with dangerman Ty Gadsden starting to tick.

And Newcastle did well to close the gap to nine points at the half with Hasahn French — who would go on to finish the game with a double double of 10 points and 19 rebounds — bossing the boards at both ends.

The Eagles trailed by eight with 10 minutes to play but Steutel’s men showed the drive and determination that’s been sorely lacking for long periods of the season to haul themselves back into contention.

David Cohn took his third-period form into the final quarter to lead the visitors’ eye-catching fightback.

But it was Justin Gordon who took a fabulous fixture into overtime after perfectly executing the final play of regulation.

Coach Steutel drew up the potentially pivotal play with eight seconds of the fourth quarter remaining and his side trailing by two.

And with the ball inbounded Gordon took his time before making a decisive drive to the basket and completing a deft finger-roll finish.

But that was as good as it got for the popular American as he fouled out in an extra period dominated by the reborn Patriots.

That man Gadsden stayed cool under pressure to hit five from six from the free throw line and complete what could be a key victory in Plymouth’s bid to seal a playoff place.

Newcastle, by contrast, need to emerge from the international break with a renewed focus before one final push to save their season.