Worcester Wolves 88-81 Newcastle Eagles

Last Updated: Apr 7, 2015 02:38pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
Share |

Worcester Wolves delighted a sold-out University of Worcester Arena when emerging victorious from a bruising toe-to-toe battle with British Basketball League table-toppers the Newcastle Eagles on Friday.

Wolves’ sensational 88-81 win means that Eagles have lost just three times in more than thirty games this season, with each of those defeats coming at the hands of their rivals from Worcester.

The back and forth nature of the evening was set early when one of Wolves’ young guns Kalil Irving slotted home a couple of scores, only to see Eagles’ veteran forward Charles Smith do likewise. Irving’s fourth basket opened out a 24-16 advantage, but Eagles then claimed the last seven points of the first quarter.

At two minutes into the second period the sides were tied at 27-27 when Newcastle’s point guard Rahmon Fletcher took a worryingly-hard fall to the ground. It would be nearly half-an-hour before play could resume, with Fletcher eventually stretchered off to hospital. Captain Alex Owumi nailed the first of what would turn out to be five three-pointers, and Dejan Radojevic got his name on the scoresheet. A triple from Smith rounded out the half, with Worcester’s noses still in front at 40-38.

After three minutes of the second half had elapsed, Newcastle finally edged ahead at 45-47. However, an 8-2 run for the hosts would once more draw the teams together. Eagles’ Drew Lasker levelled the match at 65-65 as the final quarter began.

Consecutive threes from Owumi and from Jamal Williams eased the pressure, before Smith was once more on target. An acrobatic spin from Lasker would again give Eagles the lead, at 77-79 with a couple of minutes remaining. With under a minute to go Owumi brought spectators to their feet when calmly connecting from distance to give his side a slender 81-79 advantage.

Newcastle’s Great Britain International Darius Defoe showed that there would be no end to the ding-dong nature of the contest when dragging matters back to 82-81 with just 13 seconds to play. Now forced to foul to regain possession, the Eagles were left to watch Wolves rack up points from the free-throw line. There was an appropriate close to the feisty encounter when the visitors’ assistant coach Dave Forrester was ejected from proceedings after incurring a double technical foul for berating match officials.

A breathless Wolves’ coach Paul James applauded what he saw, saying: “It was a spectacular performance by our players. We really came together tonight, battling for each other throughout.”

Owumi was the standout man in the statistics with 25 points and ten rebounds, while Irving produced a season-best tally of 13 points and twelve rebounds. However James was keen to focus on the collective display of his team, saying: “Alex did a job and Kalil gained a long overdue double-double. But we needed more than a couple of people to step up for us to win, and that’s what happened, with five guys scoring in double figures and everyone fighting for the win.”

The tip-off to the evening had to be put back by ten minutes to accommodate the stream of fans eager to see the action, and allow time for extra seating to be put out. James acknowledged the boost the home support had given his side, adding: “Our fans were tremendous tonight. The players contributed and the supporters contributed. I know that everyone will have enjoyed what they saw and I hope that they all come back and want to bring their friends with them to join in with it all. If we have to delay tip off to cram everyone in then so be it. It was a fabulous spectacle, a special night and a special performance.”

Wolves will be back in action again at the University of Worcester Arena next Friday when they host Glasgow Rocks.


blog comments powered by Disqus