Newcastle Eagles secured their third successive BBL Championship win with a crushing victory over rivals Glasgow Rocks, writes ANDREW FOWLER.
The game was anything but safe for Newcastle after three periods, but an explosive final quarter which saw them outscore Glasgow 35-12, crushed any hope of a Rocks revival.
The BBL rivalry between Newcastle and Glasgow goes back longer than most and it was something Fab Flournoy evidently had in mind by starting himself for the first time this season.
The Eagles’ player/coach veteran was subbed out after just four minutes to be replaced by point guard Paul Gause.
Four quick points after the substitution pushed the Rocks into a timeout which saw them trail on Tyneside 13-5.
The usual feisty affair was opened with a frenetic but uncontrolled start by both teams.
The visitors were unusually sloppy in the first period, as Newcastle forced turnover after turnover, leading to a run which them extend their lead to 18-10.
Flournoy’s men were pinned back late in the first quarter as they took a turn to give away unnecessary possessions and allow Glasgow back in to the game.
A Gause breakaway and lay-up on the buzzer ended the first period with the home side leading 24-17.
Both teams came out in the second period much more assured on defence and offence – but it was Newcastle who had to take a time out with less than three minutes played in the second quarter as Glasgow cut the deficit to a single possession at 28-26.
A hasty exchange of baskets was the tale of the first half tape as both teams struggled to make any meaningful runs, but it was the home side who led 49-38 at the break.
Newcastle were by far the better of the two outfits after two quarters – shooting 51 per cent from the field – but were poor from distance, making only one of their nine attempts.
Glasgow however shot 47 per cent from the floor, made four from their first seven three-point attempts, but could not maintain that run and ended the half making only four out of 10 from distance.
Newcastle struggled in the first half from range, but that did not deter Eagles favourite Charles Smith, who fired two successive threes early in the third period – one banked off the glass which drew a rue smile from player and bench alike.
The Eagles continued to increase their lead throughout the quarter, until a Rocks three cut Newcastle’s lead to 60-49 and saw the home side call a timeout with three minutes left in the penultimate period.
The end of the third stanza belonged to the visitors.
Despite Newcastle leading going in to the fourth quarter 63-58, it was Glasgow who had finished stronger after a series of successful stops on their defensive end.
A pair of Smith free throws and a Darius Defoe elbow jumper kick started the Eagles’ offence in the final period, extending their advantage to 67-58.
The game continued in its fragmented form but it was still the Eagles who were in the ascendancy – a Malik Cooke breakaway dunk sending Glasgow in to a timeout trailing 75-60 with six minutes left .
Newcastle had scored 22 points to Glasgow’s two, before the away side’s next basket and that saw the game out of sight as the Eagles led 85-62.
Fab and co continued their onslaught until the final whistle, eventually routing the Rocks 98-70.
Newcastle Eagles: Smith 24, Defoe 20, Cooke/Martin 16.