It was relief for Newcastle Eagles tonight in the top of the table clash in the BBL Championship, whilst the final four in the BBL Cup was finalised as the last quarter-final was decided in Sheffield.
Wolves @ Eagles
The game between the top two teams in the BBL Championship had it all on Friday night at Sport Central, but Newcastle Eagles took an 86-74 overtime victory over Worcester Wolves.
In a low scoring first quarter, neither side could really take control of the game, but it was the events of the second quarter that made for interesting viewing and an extra twist to the script as Charles Smith fouled out of the game after picking up two calls in the first, two in the second, which was quickly followed by a technical foul with less than two minutes to go in the half.
The slender three point lead Eagles took into the third quarter extended for a brief period, but Worcester went to work late on and edged in front, but a foul by player-coach Fab Flournoy on Daniel Belgrave saw the Worcester guard make two of his three free throws, and put the visitors 11 points ahead with 7:05 left on the clock.
What had been an awful shooting game for Eagles at that point was to be shaken off in some style, thanks to Malik Cooke’s efforts and finally some epic clutch play by Paul Gause from the free throw line to tie the game at 66-66.
The shots beyond the perimeter began to drop for Newcastle into overtime, and went on a 17-0 run in effect from before the end game buzzer to 103 seconds left on the OT clock; a magnificent turnaround from Newcastle who were under pressure with the loss of Smith so early on in the game. Worcester tried in vain to pull it back, but with such little time to do so, the head-to-head for the Eagles was saved, and in turn helped switch the league positions of the two sides. Newcastle now top the league with an 8-2 record, as Worcester (8-3) slip to second due to games played.
Malik Cooke top scored for the Eagles with 29 points, whilst Scott Martin claimed a double-double of 17 points and ten rebounds. Worcester can take heart from the two double-double performances from Andreas Schreiber and Will Creekmore.
Wildcats @ Sharks (BBL Cup Quarter-Final)
Sheffield Sharks progressed into the semi-finals of the BBL Cup at the expense of Durham Wildcats, 70-58, at EIS Sheffield, after a game-winning final quarter.
Getting out of the blocks early by the home side seemed to be a signal of intent, but across the second and third quarters, Durham slowly crept back into the game, stretching out a lead midway through the third but Lee Davie’s team could not keep that momentum going as Jeremie Simmons and BJ Holmes pulled things back Sheffield’s way, until Danny Huffor tied the game set up a final quarter to decide who would progress.
As Sharks moved through the gears, it took Durham over six minutes to get a score, from the free throw line, but being so close to the semi-finals, Atiba Lyons’ men refused to relinquish control and eased through to the next round to face Newcastle Eagles.
Sheffield’s Simmons was the game’s top scorer with 19, closely followed by Holmes on 18 points, but Patrick Horstmann came away with a double-double of ten points and 12 rebounds. For Durham, Devan Ginty was their top scorer on 17, and brought down the most boards for his side with eight.