Newcastle Eagles snatched a dramatic victory from the Worcester Wolves in the final seconds to move closer to sealing the BBL Championship. Plymouth survived an early onslaught from the MK Lions to win 100-93 on the road while the Sheffield Sharks all but secured a play-off spot; beating Durham 78-73.
Andrew Thomson was credited with the tip-in on the buzzer to deny Worcester a second win at the Sport Central this season; in a thrilling televised game. Thomson, who won the league last season with the Mersey Tigers, added a valuable 12 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists while Charles Smith top scored with 25 points.
The home side gained the early advantage as a 13-2 burst in the opening quarter helped them to a 22-13 lead after ten minutes.
The visitors battled back in the second a 10-2 run closed the gap to two after triples from Tommy Freeman and Arnas Kazlauskas. Newcastle regained control through four points from both Charles Smith and Paul Gause but Worcester finished the half with the final seven points to tie the match at 38-38.
Worcester had regained the lead for the first time since the early stages of the game but a three from Thomson followed by two from Joe Chapman put the Eagles 57-49 ahead, midway through the third.
However, 15 unanswered points for the Wolves put them back into the lead; helped by a double technical called on Gause and the Eagles. Richie Gordon had sparked the run with seven points of his own and Freeman had converted five of six from the line before Newcastle finished the third with eight consecutive points to take a slender 65-64 lead into a crucial final quarter.
The lead changed hands several times and the game was tied at 75 each after a score from beyond the arc from Freeman. Charles Smith gave his side an 86-81 lead with just over a minute left but five points from Kazlauskas followed by a three point play from Prezzie-Blue and suddenly Worcester were in the lead with just 12 seconds remaining.
Thomson and Smith both missed attempts to win the game before Thomson netted the winner at the third attempt to hand the Eagles a crucial 85-84 victory in their bid for the title.
Plymouth’s victory however, has kept the title race alive- just, as they move level on points with Worcester.
They found themselves behind early on after a 10-2 finish to the first gave the Lions a 32-24 advantage. The lead peaked at 55-35 in the second but a strong revival from Plymouth cut their arrears back down to eight with a 13-1 finish before half-time.
The Raiders edged proceedings in the third and a late triple from Lehmon Colbert made it a three point differential heading into the fourth, with the Lions up 76-72. A 5-0 start gave Plymouth a lead they did not relinquish despite the best efforts of the Lions. Adrien Sturt’s three made it a one point game with 1:38 left but Jeremy Bell sealed the win at the free throw line; finishing with a game high 28 points in his side’s win.
Sheffield’s home win over Durham means that they require just one win from their remaining games to secure their place in the play-offs. The Sharks were pushed hard by their opponents; leading by just two points at half-time (38-36) and they held on for the win with the Wildcats still to win on the road this season.