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Newcastle Eagles 73-66 Worcester Wolves

Last Updated: Feb 7, 2016 04:58pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves’ hopes of recapturing the BBL Trophy they secured in 2014 remain intact after they survived a gritty semi-final first-leg encounter at Newcastle Eagles.

Last month Wolves put forward a full forty-minute performance to end Newcastle’s celebrated 28-match unbeaten run. Approaching half-time of this Friday’s match they had fallen into a 16-point deficit before they were able to regain their composure.

With seven minutes of the evening remaining, Wolves had hauled themselves back into the contest and even taken the lead at 61-62. Eagles regained the upper hand to close out a 73-66 win, leaving next week’s second leg still nicely-poised.

Javier Mugica stole the ball from Newcastle veteran Charles Smith, setting up an Orlan Jackman three-pointer to commence the match. Mugica would attempt four triples of his own before tasting any success. In the meantime, Eagles methodically went about their business to accumulate a comfortable 27-13 first quarter lead.

Perris Blackwell opened his scoring account as the second period began, thriving close to the basket for ten more points by the interval. By contrast, the outside woes continued as a further five Worcester attempts from outside the arc missed their target.

Trailing 45-36 entering the second half, Wolves increased the defensive intensity, limiting Newcastle to just a couple of baskets from the field over the whole third quarter. Worcester’s triple count for this period would reach seven, but there were now a trio of those that hit home, aiding a 56-56 tied ball game.

Wolves’ inconsistency would show itself again over the final quarter with a flurry of rushed plays, while their hosts steadily built an advantage.

Blackwell led the way for Wolves with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Smith top-scored for the Eagles with 18 points.

Coach Paul James gave his thoughts: “Seven points is not irretrievable. While we let them take charge at the start and towards the end, I’m pleased that we fought back well in-between.”

Asked about his side’s whopping thirty three-point shot attempts, James replied, “The shots were there for the taking – they challenged us to make them. If they do that again at our place I can tell you that it’ll be a different story with how many that go in.” 

The return-leg to decide who travels to Glasgow at the end of the month for the BBL Trophy Final will take place next Sunday, 14 February, (tip off 3pm).

“There was a sell-out crowd here today and that spurred Newcastle on. If the good people of Worcester get behind us in a similar way next week then we’ll provide something special in return,” added James.

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