A valiant fight back by the Glasgow Rocks fell short as they paid for a second quarter collapse to fall defeat to the Newcastle Eagles.
The Eagles remain undefeated in the BBL Championship after they escaped their Scottish road trip with an 89-85 victory, despite a valiant fight back by their arch-rivals Glasgow Rocks.
Having led by as many as 21 points after a second quarter collapse that saw the Rocks score only 9 points, the Eagles made hard work of it in the second half before eventually grinding out a narrow victory.
The game started at a frantic pace with the sell-out Kelvin Hall crowd creating an intense atmosphere, and with both teams struggling to find their range the quarter was fairly even, with only a contentious unsportsmanlike foul call on Andrew Wedemire and a Joe Chapman three with 2 seconds to play allowing the Eagles to edge into a 21-17 lead.
The Eagles really stepped up a gear at both ends of the court in the second period, while the Rocks struggled under the pressure. After hanging in during the early stages with a couple of fast break buckets by Mychal Green, the Eagles’ intense defensive pressure caused turnover after turnover and forced the Rocks into trying tough shots that just would not drop. They finished the period without scoring at all in the final 4:57 and without scoring a field goal for the final 7:53.
At the other end of the court the Eagles made their defensive efforts pay, with Paul Gause able to drive the lane far too easily and Andrew Thomson given too much space to operate. Two Gause fast breaks to finish the quarter meant the Eagles ended on a 22-2 run, giving them a seemingly unassailable 47-26 half time lead.
The Rocks came out in the 3rd period like a totally different team, with centre DeAundre Cranston exerting his size advantage to rack up the first four points of the period. A Gareth Murray breakaway dunk pulled the lead back to 15 and got the crowd back on their feet, which the Rocks used as part of a 19-5 run to get them back within 7 points.
A Joe Chapman 3 and two from Charles Smith – so often the scourge of the Rocks – kept the Eagles with some breathing room, but a strong finish to the period with three straight threes from Sterling Davis, Mychal Green and Danny Huffor made it a single possession game at 61-64 in favour of the Eagles.
Aware that the game was slipping away from them the Eagles stepped up the defensive efforts at the start of the 4th and four points from Eagles’ player/coach Fabulous Flournoy increased the lead back to 7.
The Rocks’ own defensive efforts kept the Eagles at bay and an Andrew Wedmire three pulled the Rocks within two before Gareth Murray gave them an unlikely 70-69 lead with a three of his own with just over six minutes to play.
A tense finale ensued, with no team given any breathing room before a Paul Gause steal and dunk put the Eagles up 81-79 and a questionable five second inbound call gave them back possession and momentum.
Some smart play down the stretch from Charles Smith and Joe Chapman to draw fouls meant that the Rocks weren’t able to get the stops they needed, and allowed the Eagles to escape with the win 89-85.
Despite the woeful second quarter Rocks’ player/coach Sterling Davis still felt the game was theirs to lose. “I’m over just taking [the Eagles] for a good run. I want to turn these into wins and we had opportunities tonight to do that, but we didn’t get the stops we needed to and, at the end of the day, we have another loss and they have another win,” he reflected.