Newcastle Eagles will take a 107-90 advantage back to Sport Central after an impressive first leg display in Plymouth in the BBL Cup.
The visitors were clinical from beyond the arc, landing 17 attempts at 57% as Damon Huffman and Charles Smith combined for 58 points. Plymouth’s Jeremy Bell shared the game-high scoring honours as he matched their 29 point efforts.
Javarris Barnett netted an early triple to spark a 10-2 burst as the home side took an early lead. Newcastle came to life with a 17-4 response as Smith found the net from long range on two occasions to help give his side a 27-20 advantage after the opening quarter.
Bell found his range at the start of the second; adding 12 points to bring the home side level at 43 despite three-pointers from Huffman and Anthony Martin. Plymouth couldn’t take the lead and a trio of triples from Smith inspired an 11-1 finish to the half as Newcastle now led 54-44.
Plymouth managed to reduce their arrears to single figures when Michael Ojo nailed both of his free throw attempts but the lead soon began to rise. Smith nailed yet another three pointer before Huffman followed suit although the Raiders finished the third well to trail 75-62 with the fourth remaining.
Joe Chapman found his range with consecutive triples before a Kareem Maddox dunk saw the lead peak at 23 points. The damage had been done and despite a late rally from Plymouth, they fell to a 107-90 defeat as Newcastle took a step closer to defending their title.
The second leg in Newcastle will take place on Friday on the same day that the other semi-final gets underway with the Sheffield Sharks hosting the league leaders, Leicester.