Newcastle Eagles became the first side to defeat Worcester Wolves in 2014 on Friday, and in the process ended their 14-game winning streak in all competitions.
The live BBL TV showdown from Worcester Arena saw Fab Flournoy’s Eagles storm to a 13-point lead in the first quarter, and extended out to a game-high of 19 thanks to Paul Gause three minutes in to the second quarter.
From there on out it was a question of whether Wolves could haul themselves back in to contention, and were able to slash the deficit to just ten before half-time, 48-38.
Newcastle looked to re-establish their grip on the game, and after the break went on a 7-0 run from the off. However, the home side began to show why they were leading the BBL Championship, going on what was effectively a 17-4 run to pull it back to just a four-point gap.
That was as close as the Wolves were going to get, despite their best efforts throughout the final period, the 86-78 loss now gives Newcastle and Sheffield a glimmer of hope in terms of the battle for the overall Championship title.
On the night, there were double-doubles for both sides. Charles Smith’s tally of 19 points and 13 rebounds led the way for the Eagles, with Paul Gause and Malik Cooke both adding 18 points each.
For the Wolves’ Will Creekmore was the game’s top-scorer with 23 points and a huge 19 rebounds, whilst Alex Owumi also added 20 points, 11 boards and six assists.
Leicester Riders seem to have shaken off their recent poor run of form, as a devastating third quarter helped Rob Paternostro’s side to a 99-71 win at the Copper Box Arena over the London Lions.
The Riders took control at the end of the first period, but it was the display after the break that stole the show.
Andrew Sullivan helped end the third 76-49 for the visitors, who would then stretch out, twice, to a 32-point lead in the final stanza.
Rashad Hassan stood out with his haul of 27 points and 12 rebounds, as Jay Couisnard also contributed 25 points and grabbed nine boards.
For the Lions, Rod Brown top-scored with 18 points, closely followed by Chez Marks on 17 points.
The final game of the night saw Manchester Giants’ hopes of making the playoffs take yet another upward turn, with their 111-105 road win at Durham Wildcats.
David Aliu was on fire once more, bagging 38 points and 11 rebounds on the way to victory, but it was a game that needed a big half-time talk from Jeff Jones to turn things around as the home side took the initiative leading 56-50 at the break.
Luckily for the visitors, their three-point and free throw accuracy (just two free-throws out of 28 missed during the game for the Giants) put the Wildcats to the sword, and were able to fight their way back in to the tie before taking the victory.
It now brings Manchester back in to the playoff mix, as the four teams placed slightly higher face-off this Saturday (Plymouth v Cheshire) and Sunday (Glasgow v Durham), as Manchester take on bottom, and winless, Birmingham Knights also on Sunday.