Newcastle Eagles 87, Plymouth Raiders 79

EAGLES’ marksmen Richard Midgley and Charles Smith combined to secure the double over Plymouth and extend Fab Flournoy’s unbeaten run to eight games.

EAGLES’ marksmen Richard Midgley and Charles Smith combined to secure the double over Plymouth and extend Fab Flournoy’s unbeaten run to eight games.

Gary Stronach’s side were on the wrong end of a beating last month when Flournoy’s roster narrowly overcame the Raiders on their home court. Midgley again recorded a Newcastle game-high of 21 while Smith secured 20 points to launch the Eagles into a commanding position at the summit of the BBL.

While the Newcastle-born Stronach may have been seeking to make amends for that tight defeat, the Tynesiders snuffed out any chance of a Plymouth backlash.

The Eagles issued a powerful statement of intent to other BBL franchises last night as they romped to their eighth win of the season inside the Metro Radio Arena.

Flournoy’s men started the brightest in a tense thriller on Tyneside. After five minutes, Midgley and Smith linked up to give the Eagles a 10-point lead.

Midgley hit 10 first-quarter points and Smith eight. The home side were clinical, intricate and fluent. But where they prospered in the opening quarter, the Eagles floundered in the second.

Flournoy – who had started the contest watching courtside – introduced himself to the game, and the Tynesiders’ solid start began to crumble as Plymouth emerged for the second period looking revitalised.

Long-serving forward DeAntoine Beasley led the counter offensive. He notched up 10 points in the second period and gave life to a previously limp roster. Texas-born Andrew Lasker was outstanding from the line as he hit four from four.

Having trailed 32-20 going into the period, the Raiders went on a 17-4 point run en route to assuming control of the tie.

Brody Bishop injected a much needed wake-up for the visitors as they took the lead.

Beasley’s huge three-point shot six minutes into the second quarter turned around the deficit as the Raiders found themselves leading by 36-37. But the Eagles dug in and points from Olu Babalola, Darius Defoe and Lynard Stewart helped the home side restore their lead at the half time whistle on 48-41, a lead they never relinquished.

Beasley again led the Plymouth charge as he tucked eight points under his belt in the third to keep the visitors in contention.

But it was Smith who presented the biggest resistance to a Plymouth upset. The Rider University graduate picked up nine points on his way to collecting his final total tally.

The two teams exchanged blows and by the end of the third the Eagles’ lead had been trimmed to just three points.

An early referee call proved pivotal for the home side. Bishop was adjudged to have committed a dangerous foul under his own basket that gave Flournoy’s men the opportunity to put the game beyond the Raiders, and they duly obliged.

Flournoy was awarded the two points, Midgley secured one from the line and Hyatt hit two points from the sideline restart.

Bishop’s late three points threatened to ruin the Eagles’ party as the Raiders put Flournoy’s men under the cosh.

But baskets from Stewart and Jeremy Hyatt put the game beyond Plymouth’s reach.

TOP SCORERS

NEWCASTLE EAGLES: Richard Midgley 21, Charles Smith 20, Lynard Stewart 15

PLYMOUTH RAIDERS: DeAntoine Beasley 27, Andrew Lasker 21, Brody Bishop 16

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