NEWCASTLE RESPOND WITH HEATED WIN

Newcastle Eagles responded to their first defeat of the British Basketball League season by breezing past Guildford 83-73 on Sunday.

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 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 were 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.

Smith and 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.

Elsewhere, Newcastle’s Cup final opponents Plymouth Raiders thrashed  Glasgow Rocks 94-67.

Despite starting well during the opening exchanges and being tied 19-19, the Rocks imploded towards the end of the first quarter and never recovered as the rampant Raiders took control.

Jeremy Bell led the way with 26 points and six steals while centre Paul Williams grabbed 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Saturday: Worcester roll over Rocks

Canadian forward Andy Wedemire hit a team-best 18 points for the Kelvin Hall outfit but Worcester used a 12-2 run in the second quarter to grab an unassailable advantage. Down 48-37 at half-time, Glasgow sought a revival but came up well short, their shooting struggles and the ongoing absence of captain EJ Harrison costing them dearly.

And Worcester – led by 23 from Tommy Freeman – cruised as much as 22 clear in the fourth quarter en route to a victory which gives them a share of first place in the standings along side Newcastle, leaving the Rocks to look for an instant response against Plymouth Raiders.

Sheffield Sharks beat Durham Wildcats 90-71 as Atiba Lyons’ men continue to rebound from their poor start to the campaign.

Jimmy Langhurst hit a game-high 27 points for the Sharks who took control of the game in the second quarter thanks to a 14-0 tear which pushed them 42-28 ahead and irrevocably in control.

Friday: Eagles shot down, Heat break duck

Worcester Wolves stunned Newcastle Eagles by coming back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to defeat the BBL leaders 94-86.

Bouncing back from the disappointment of losing last weekend’s cup semi-final against Plymouth Raiders, Paul James’ men provided the perfect response by ending the Tyneside outfit’s unbeaten start to the season.

A score from centre Richie Gordon, followed by three made foul shots from Tommy Freeman pushed Wolves into a 5-0 lead to open the game. The teams traded baskets throughout the rest of an opening quarter that ended with the Eagles on top at 24-21.

The second period saw the home side begin to put their mark on the contest as some big three-pointers from their strong American duo of Charles Smith and Joe Chapman helped them extend their lead to 47-33 just before the half-time interval. A score from distance by Wolves’ Sherrad Prezzie-Blue, followed by a late basket from fellow guard Callum Jones, pulled matters back to 47-38 heading into the locker rooms.

In the third quarter the Wolves were unable to make much headway into the Newcastle advantage and still trailed 64-51 as the period ended.

However in the first minute and a half of the final period a remarkable four consecutive scores from outside the arc by Freeman slashed the Worcester deficit 67-63. It was fitting that yet another Freeman basket, a couple of minutes later, took the Wolves into their first lead since the start of the game

While Eagles continued to struggle to defend the free-scoring Freeman, more space opened up for Prezzie-Blue to join the Wolves’ points frenzy. With four minutes remaining in the match the visitors led 83-74, and there was no way back for a shell-shocked Newcastle side that saw their proud unbeaten run ended.

Freeman top scored for the Wolves with 33, including five three-pointers. Smith hit a game-high 37.

Guildford Heat finally broke their duck in the BBL Championship as they picked up a 82-76 victory over the Mersey Tigers.

Both sides traded baskets in the early exchanges, but it was the Heat who made the first break thanks to a 9-2 burst to take the score out to 8-15 midway through the opening period.  The home side responded immediately however as they ended the quarter the stronger as they netted 12 of the last 15 points in the period to lead 20-18 at the end of the first quarter.

A three-pointer from David Aliu kept the Tigers in front at 29-22, but the visitors took control of the period from that point on as an 18-2 burst from the Lions took the score out to 40-31, but the home side bagged five of the last seven points in the half to head into the locker rooms trailing 42-36 at the half.

A strong start to the second half from the Heat saw the visitors open up a commanding 62-42 lead as they outscored their hosts 20-6 in the opening seven minutes of the third quarter.  The Tigers were not to be outdone as they repeated their strong showing from the end of the second quarter to secure a 9-0 tear to end the third quarter trailing by 11 points at the start of the fourth.

The visitors Heat were as much as 16 in front with seven minutes but Mersey began to claw their way back into the contest as a Myles Hesson basket sparked a 13-1 burst to trim the deficit to 73-69 with 2:42 remaining.

This was however as close as the home side would get as the Heat held on and secured victory from the foul-line. Mike Martin led all scorers in the contest with 22 points for the Heat, while Keith Douse led the scoring for the Tigers with 20

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