The league-leading Newcastle Eagles sent a message to their BBL Championship rivals as they beat the Glasgow Rocks 97-71 in the battle between the league’s two northernmost teams, overcoming the third-placed Rocks for the second time in the league in little over a month.
The Eagles did the damage in the third quarter with Charles Smith leading all scorers on the night with 28 points, Darius Defoe notching 21 and Andrew Thomson posting a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds.
A quick start to the game saw the teams tied at 9 after three minutes with Danny Huffor scoring 5 early points for the visitors, and another of his baskets gave the Rocks a 10-13 lead midway through the period. Paul Gause tied the game immediately with a three-pointer but the Rocks pushed on as five straight points from DeAndre Cranston and a Gareth Murray triple helped them to a 19-25 lead with two minutes to play in the quarter. But the Eagles finished strongly to tie the game at 27 as Charles Smith scored 8 straight points, including two three-pointers of his own.
After a high-scoring first period, the Eagles failed to register in the first two and a half minutes of the second stanza meaning they had a six and a half minute period in which only Smith scored. Another Murray triple, making the score 29-35, forced the Eagles into a timeout from which they emerged with consecutive Darius Defoe baskets from Gause feeds before Smith tied it up again at 35; and they were back in front a couple of minutes later at 42-39 on Andrew Bridge’s three-pointer. The hosts held that lead through to the half at 46-45, with Smith on 18 points.
The Eagles carried their momentum into the third quarter and stretched their lead, seeing it reach 8 points at 63-55 on Thomson’s three-pointer and then 68-59 as he repeated the trick within the final minute of the period. The lead reached double-figures before the third was finished as Gause’s buzzer-beater made it 70-59.
Andrew Wedemire set about trying to get the Rocks back in the game with an early three-pointer in the fourth quarter, but the revival was stopped before it started as Smith made a triple in response and the Eagles posted an 8-0 burst soon after to see the lead reach 81-64 on another Smith basket. The lead peaked at 26 points in a dominant fourth quarter that the relentless Eagles won 27-12.