Plymouth Raiders kept their slim title hopes alive with two victories over the weekend while league leaders, Newcastle were beaten by the Glasgow Rocks.
The Rocks were back to full strength with the return of EJ Harrison and it paid dividends with an 85-77 success at Kelvin Hall, which sealed their spot in the play-offs.
DeAundre Cranston came up with the goods for the home side with 25 points coming from 11/11 shooting from inside the arc. Paul Gause top scored for Newcastle with 24 points with Joe Chapman adding a further 23.
Cranston had eight points early on as the Rocks raced into a 12-2 lead. The Eagles hit back with a 15-3 response with ten points from Chapman and the final five from Gause to take the lead. However, it was Glasgow who seized the initiative with the last five points of the quarter to gain a 28-24 advantage after ten minutes.
A 7-0 burst midway through the second extended the lead and the score became 49-37 at half-time. The third quarter was an even affair and despite the lead peaking at 16, Newcastle cut their arrears to eleven heading into the final ten minutes, trailing 67-56.
Charles Smith had made it a four point game late on with a score from beyond the arc but Glasgow held on, securing the win from the line; making 7/8 attempts in the final minute.
Newcastle still have their fate in their own hands but the defeat will give hope to the chasing pack. The new team leading the chase are the Plymouth Raiders, no strangers to finishing second best to the Eagles this season, after they enjoyed wins over Durham and Leicester at the Pavilions.
Gavin Love’s side were pushed all the way by bottom-placed, Durham in the only game on Saturday before a strong final quarter helped them to a 96-85 victory. The teams had entered the fourth level at 66 but an 11-4 burst from Plymouth proved decisive in the closing stages.
Paul Williams’ 22 points were enough to lead all Plymouth scorers before repeating the feat the following day with a further 26 in a 93-81 success over the Leicester Riders.
The Raiders edged a high scoring first half before a strong third quarter gave them a 15 point cushion to take into the fourth. It was too steep a hill for Leicester to climb as their hopes of a top-two finish were dealt a blow.
In the final game of the weekend, the Cheshire Jets made it a very successful weekend after an 80-75 success over Guildford. The visitors missed out to go level on points with Sheffield while Cheshire are now two points ahead of the Lions in the race for the play-offs.
Adam Brown led the way with a 30 point haul as the home side overturned a slender half-time deficit to cool the Heat with a strong second half performance.