In the battle of the top two in the BBL Championship, it was the Newcastle Eagles who extended their lead at the top of the table thanks to a thrilling 100-102 victory over the Worcester Wolves at Worcester University on Saturday evening.
A three-pointer from Joe Chapman gave the Eagles the lead at 95-98 with 1:32 remaining. A pair of free-throws from Charles Smith sandwiched between a Richie Gordon basket and another three-pointer from Prezzie-Blue saw the game all tied up at 100-100 with 25 seconds remaining.
Both sides had opportunities to win the game, but a Smith basket with 11 seconds to go gave the Eagles a 100-102 lead and despite a three-pointer attempt from Freeman with four seconds left which fell short, the Eagles held on for the all-important victory to open up a six point gap at the top of the table.
Earlier in the game, both sides traded baskets at the start of the opening quarter, but it was the home side who made the first significant break of the game as they opened up a 20-14 lead off the back of a 7-2 run midway through the period. A Tommy Freeman basket gave the Wolves a 28-19 lead towards the end of the quarter but a pair of free throws from Paul Gause closed the deficit to seven points at 28-21 at the end of the first period.
In the second quarter the Wolves got their lead back out to nine points at 32-23, but a 16-4 burst from the Eagles saw the visitors take the lead at 36-39 midway through the second period. Both sides traded baskets for much of the remainder of the half, but with the scores tied at 47-47, the home side once again enjoyed a strong run as a pair of free-throws from Arnas Kazlauskas and back-to-back three pointers from Sherrad Prezzie-Blue saw the Wolves heading into the locker rooms with a 55-47 lead at the half.
In the second half another Freeman basket gave the Wolves the lead at 62-55 midway through the third quarter, but the Eagles found their range from beyond the arc as they drained four consecutive three-pointers in a 14-4 tear to hand them the lead at 66-69. A 12-2 response from the Wolves however handed the home side the lead back once again at 78-72 and they held onto their lead at 80-77 heading into the final stanza.
In the final period the Wolves opened up a seven point advantage at 90-83 midway through the final quarter, but they could not extend their advantage further as the Eagles clawed their way back into the contest before the fireworks of the closing stages occured.
Chapman led all scorers in the game with an impressive 39-point haul for the Eagles in a thrilling game, while Prezzie-Blue led the scoring for the Wolves with 27 points for the Wolves.