BBL Action: Newcastle close in on BBL crown
Newcastle Eagles 87 (23,44,66) (Chapman 30, Flournoy 13, Thomson 13)
Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders 79 (14,41,62) (Rundles 23, Hardy 17, Sullivan 11)
Newcastle Eagles took a massive step towards the BBL title with a thrilling 87-79 win over Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders.
The Riders had overcome a big early deficit to lead 77-72 with less than five minutes to play, but Newcastle showed all their experience to rattle off the next 11 points.
When Leicester finally managed to move the scoreboard again Joe Chapman and Fab Flournoy kept their cool from the free throw line to seal the victory.
Despite conceding the first two baskets of the match the Eagles had their customary quick start to race into a 20-12 lead on the back of an 11-2 run. Newcastle ended the quarter with a 23-14 advantage.
Eagles looked to be running away with the game when they moved 32-16 in front on a Joe Chapman two. But Riders showed why they’re one of the best teams in the BBL this season by gradually whittling away at the margin.
Cameron Rundles capped off an 8-0 run and then a Bradd Wierzbicki three brought it back to 37-35. Newcastle moved clear again before former star Andrew Sullivan nailed a three to make it 43-41.
Chapman had the chance to make it a five point game at half time but could only score one of three from the line as Eagles led 44-41.
The Riders completed their comeback early in the third quarter as an Ayron Hardy dunk made it 47-47. And the score was still tied at 51-51 before Newcastle scored the next six points to help themselves to a 66-62 lead with 10 minutes to play.
UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders 109 (27,54,83) (Bell 31, Williams 20, Jones 20)
Cheshire Jets 105 (20,47,68) (O’Reilly 39, Schneck 22, Brown 17)
UCP Plymouth Raiders kept their alive their hopes of the BBL title by holding off the fast charging Cheshire Jets 109-105 in Devon.
Leading 83-68 after three quarters the home side seemed to be more affected by a 20-minute delay for a new backboard after mascot ‘Foxy’ shattered it.
The Jets pulled to within two at 98-96 on a Bill Cole three before Gavin Love’s team recovered their composure with an Anthony Rowe three and free throws by Jeremy Bell and Lehmont Colbert to see out the win.
Jets began well and led 10-4 on the back of two Colin O’Reilly free throws before the Raiders began to find their touch. Going ahead 13-12 on a Jeremy Bell two Plymouth didn’t trail again in the first quarter as they built up a 27-20 lead.
Cheshire worked hard in the second quarter to reduce the deficit and they drew level with just 47 seconds of the half left at 47-47 on two Matt Schneck free throws.
However, Raiders scored the next seven points, including a Bell three, to maintain their lead at 54-47.
Jets again pegged back their hosts as they took the lead at 60-59 on an O’Reilly three. Plymouth soon responded though with a superb 24-8 run up to the end of the quarter to lead 83-68 – Michael Ojo and James Jones hitting triples in the burst.
There was then a break after Raiders mascot Foxy broke the backboard during his three-quarter-time dunk routine.
Jets looked like they may pull off a famous victory by Raiders had just enough in reserve to take the win.
Mersey Tigers 75 (21,32,51) (Hesson 20, Bailey 18, Cricelli 12)
Guildford Heat 83 (25,48,60) (McLemore 16, Ogedengbe 16, Holmes 13)
Guildford Heat secured a valuable road win in their fight for a play-off berth with an 83-75 victory at Mersey Tigers.
Martelle McLemore and Tayo Ogedengbe led the way with 16 points as an accomplished fourth quarter performance held off the Tigers, who led by 20 points by Miles Hesson.
Guildford were on top early on with Tayo Ogedengbe draining at two to make it 18-12. Tigers rallied and a Miles Hesson dunk brought it back to 22-21 before Albert Margai’s three for Heat gave the visitors a 25-21 lead after 10 minutes.
The match was tight in the early stages of the second quarter as Tigers closed to 25-23 but Heat broke the match open with a 25-7 run up to the half time break, which gave them a 48-32 lead.
Tigers worked hard to close the gap and pulled back to within six (47-53) on a David Aliu three before a 7-4 run by the Heat gave them a 60-51 lead heading into the final stanza.
Any hopes of a Tigers fightback were extinguished as Heat took their advantage to 73-59 on a McLemore two with 4.03 left on the clock. The closest Mersey could get after that was seven in the final 10 seconds.