Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles showed plenty of heart, desire, commitment, grit and determination in their latest Women’s British Basketball League game at Sheffield on Sunday.
But ultimately despite many positives, they came away with a defeat on the road against a very tough Hatters side who kept a dogged Newcastle side throughout the forty minutes and did sweep all four quarters.
The Eagles once again were short handed on their roster and a measure of their depth is that all but five of their points came from five of the nine players that suited up. Reinforcements are needed and believed to be very close to joining.
Head Coach Matt Newby will look forward to that happening as will his players no doubt but for now he’ll have been encouraged and delighted with the efforts his charges put in.
A sixteen-point loss is never a great thing to accept but this was one where anyone watching could see the improvements this Eagles side are already beginning to show.
Even though Newcastle only led once in the game Sheffield could never quite shake Newby’s team off and for much of the forty minutes it was a well contested encounter and an enjoyable game of basketball.
Eagles were down 4 to 3 when Captain Marina Fernande netted a two-point bucket and then a triple to give them their only lead at 8 – 4 early on. Sheffield replied with back to back triples by Carla Drennan and led all the way afterwards.
At the end of the first it was 29 points to 21 to The Hatters. The closest Newcastle got in the second was six points before Sheffield eased away again to take a 53 – 42 lead into the locker rooms at the half-time break.
Once again though Newcastle showed great resolve in the third actually cutting the gap to three points on an Abby Lowe triple at 58 points to 55. Sheffield though steadied their ship and with ten minutes left to play led 75 – 61.
Katie Nolan and Courtney Clasen scored the first four points of the final period to bring The Eagles back within ten but that was as close as they could get as once again Sheffield held then off and increased the final gap to that sixteen-point margin.
For Newcastle Chloe Gaynor was the deserved MVP with an excellent double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Fernandez also had 18 points and 4 rebounds. Katie Nolan almost emulated Gaynor with a double-double of her won, 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Abby Lowe with 12 points and 4 assists came next and Clasen was the fifth Eagle in double figures with ten points.
So, a defeat but perhaps a defeat with honours. This Hatters side actually defeated Newcastle 92 – 52 in pre-season in what was as one-sided a game as the score line suggests.
If Newcastle can just continue doing all the right things at the right times and build on their character and determined effort then with the likely reinforcements in place they can still make waves in The League this season.
Next up for Matt Newby and his players is ‘The Derby’ against Durham Palatinates on Saturday 2nd December in The Vertu Motors Arena tipping off at 7:30pm. With a couple of potential new faces in the camp that’s a game all at Newcastle are looking forward too.
Tickets for ‘The Derby’ are on sale now from the box office.