Guildford Heat 73 (19,34,53) (McLemore 19, Ogedengbe 17, Lasker 11)
Newcastle Eagles 83 (18,38,54) (Smith 24, Chapman 23, Defoe 12)
Newcastle Eagles dug out a crucial win to avoid slipping to successive defeats in a scrappy but tense game which hung in the balance right until the last few minutes of the contest.
With renewed confidence having secured their first league win of the season, Heat were in good spirits but also expecting a backlash from the Eagles who had suffered their first defeat in the BBL Championship just 48 hours earlier.
It was the visitors who made the better start as they rattled off six of the first seven points in the game and they remained in front for six minutes until Drew Lasker put Heat ahead with a score against his ex-employers.
It then got even better for the hosts when Tayo Ogedengbe threw down a dunk and as Lasker scored another followed by an inside basket by Martelle McLemore, the Heat went from five down during the early stages to five points in front at 19-14.
However, Eagles reeled their opponent back and only trailed by a single digit heading into the second quarter after Joe Chapman scored a three-pointer and made a free throw. Indeed the away team completed an 11-2 run either side of the quarter break with another triple by Chapman handing them a 25-21 advantage. The shooting guard then showed he can also create when he dished off for the impressive Darius Defoe to extend the lead to six points at 34-28.
Heat rallied and didn’t allow the game to slip away from them with Ogedengbe lively and Lasker pulling the strings to good effect in the backcourt meaning they were only behind 38-34 heading to the locker rooms.
The third quarter was dominated by defence with neither team able to find any true rhythm and particularly the Eagles who laboured painfully on offence and found scoring to be a real problem with just nine points in almost nine minutes. Heat were slightly better and were 51-47 up with 90 seconds left of the period but a free-throw by Andrew Bridge and then yet another score from the arc by Chapman tied the game up.
It looked like a basket in the dying seconds by Julius Joseph would give the hosts the lead going into the last quarter until Charles Smith (pictured) drained a buzzer beater from deep three-point range to swing the pendulum back the way of the Eagles at 54-53.
The last ten minutes was tense and continued in the same vein with Heat controlling the boards, the Eagles intense on defence but nobody able to make a decisive break and it was locked 63-63 with just over five minutes to play.
Eventually it was the Eagles who made their move, scoring nine of the next 12 points to go 72-66 up and it proved crucial as they kept their composure from the free-throw line during the last two minutes to ease away as Heat chased the game.
Charles Smith and Joe Chapman combined for 47 points but it was the Eagles defence which won the game and consolidated their position at the top of the standings.