Newcastle Eagles 79 – 72 Surrey Scorchers (22-15, 40-32, 68-49)
(Eagles: Cohn, 31; Hamlet, 13; Johnson, 12 – Scorchers: Johnson, 16; Lawrence 14; Martin, 11)
Manchester Giants 95 – 94 Caledonia Gladiators (25-35, 48-55, 77-74)
(Giants: Williams, 25; Green, 16; Roberson, 14 – Gladiators: Onwas, 16; Bailey, 14; Sloan, 13)
Bristol Flyers 91 – 84 Leicester Riders (19-17, 43-41, 67-64)
(Flyers: King, 30; Delpeche/Watson-Gayle 14; Bell III/Miller, 9 – Riders: Loving, 25; Jackson, 20; Washington, 13)
Newcastle Eagles handed Surrey Scorchers their first loss of the year (79-72), behind an emphatic 31-point performance by Eagles guard David Cohn.
Cohn was near-perfect from the floor, converting all six of his two-point field goals, and converting four shots from beyond the arc.
The Eagles began with a 13-4 run to provide a steady advantage as Cohn and Kyle Johnson started heating up early on.
Ryan Martin got things started for the Scorchers, leading his side with five first quarter points.
Surrey rookie Shakem Johnson energised the trailing side with a quick four points as the first period concluded – the Eagles ahead by seven.
Johnson continued as he left off to start the second quarter, throwing down a dunk from a pretty Padiet Wang pass.
Wang and Andrew Lawrence then combined for 11 successive points as Surrey stole the lead.
With the Eagles mustering up a 7-0 run in the closing minutes while forcing some complicated shot selections for Surrey, they entered the halftime break with a slim eight-point lead.
Newcastle re-entered the ball game fired up, with a dominant 10-0 streak proving difficult to handle.
Cohn was in his element, converting shots from inside the key, beyond the arc, as well as the free-throw line – contributing 14 straight points for the Eagles as they began to fly away with the lead.
Getting back into the game, the Scorchers showed out in the final quarter with a 12-2 run of their own to show glimpses of a comeback.
Quincy Taylor proved challenging to contain, as the speedy guard blew past the Newcastle defence to get valuable layups.
Surrey’s fiery comeback effort, however, was not enough, falling by seven as the final buzzer sounded.
With this win, Newcastle make it back-to-back Ws while Surrey suffer their first loss of 2023.
Newcastle improve to 5 wins out of 16 games played.
Surrey sit with 2 wins from 17 games.
Manchester Giants executed a fantastic comeback on their way to beating the Caledonia Gladiators in a high-scoring affair, 95-94.
With six three-pointers, 25 points, and two athletic blocks, Dirk Williams played a huge part in the Giants’ eye-catching comeback.
The contest got started with a pair of clinical long-ranged efforts from Gladiators forward Prince Onwas, making it look effortless on his way to a defiant 11 first quarter points.
Despite the visible chemistry among the Gladiators, the Giants found their footing as William Lee provided their first field goal from beyond the arc.
Lee, who has been sidelined since October, added 13 points and seven boards.
While Giants tied the game up for the first time midway through the first, three consecutive triples from the Gladiators provided the visitors with a comfortable 10-point edge.
Caledonia opened the second quarter in similar fashion to the first with a pair of threes, courtesy of sharpshooters David Sloan and Jordan Burns.
Shortly after, Caledonia’s big man Oscar Baldwin showed his athleticism, providing a steal from the top of the perimeter, finishing with a clean two-handed dunk on the other end.
With the lead extending for the visitors, the Giants did their best to get back into the game.
They too got comfortable from beyond the arc as Nic Lewis sunk one from deep with Lee adding another three to his name. Floor general Rahmon Fletcher continued to dictate the Giants attack, tallying a staggering 11 assists overall.
Reducing the deficit slightly, the Gladiators were ahead by eight at the half.
A quick 5-0 run for the Giants enabled them to cut the lead early on to start the third period beginning with a strong put-back layup from Anthony Roberson on his way to a 12 points, 12 rebounds double-double.
However, Caledonia benefitted from athletic rookie big Patrick Tape, who linked up well with Burns to put the visitors ahead by a whisker.
Two thunderous Legend Robertin dunks later and the game was back to a one-point game.
With one minute left in the third, Williams and Fletcher nailed back-to-back threes to take back the lead.
The final quarter was exhilarating with the three early lead changes as both teams went neck and neck to come out on top.
Tape provided another high-flying layup to help the Gladiators advance to a five-point cushion.
But with 90 seconds remaining in the hotly contested matchup, Williams provided two huge perimeter conversions to swing the lead back over to the Giants, adding a second win to their undefeated 2023 start.
Commiserations for the Gladiators, who despite having five players in double-figures, and 30 points from the bench, suffer another gut-wrenching defeat signifying two consecutive road losses.
Picking up their eighth win, the Manchester Giants now tie Caledonia and Plymouth with 16 points in the standings.
Bristol Flyers came out on top 91-84 in a close and tense encounter with the Leicester Riders.
With both teams eager to secure second place in the current standings, Flyers proved the better of the two powerhouses.
V.J. King’s 30 points on 60% shooting propelled the Flyers on their way to a significant victory.
The first half was closely contested throughout, as the biggest lead of the first 20 minutes was just nine points.
Bristol started confidently, getting up to a 9-4 advantage with King and centre Malcolm Delpeche connecting well to provide the opening buckets.
Despite a bold start for the hosts, Riders danger man Marc Loving began providing crucial points as the first quarter winded down.
A quick layup by rookie Jelani Watson-Gayle and a denial from Thomas Bell III kept the Flyers ahead by two.
The tension increased further as the second quarter commenced, as Riders regained the advantage midway through the period thanks to a clean perimeter shot from veteran guard Conner Washington.
The lead wouldn’t last long, King and Watson-Gayle putting on a shooting display to edge away from Leicester.
But in the blink of an eye, with three quick triples, the Riders were back on level terms with Bristol.
Leslee Smith’s last-minute layup, however, provided the hosts with a two-point buffer heading into the halftime break.
An 11-5 start for the Flyers proved critical as the unwavering Riders attack continued to hit strong as Patrick Whelan and Aaron Menzies helped to keep the lead in reach.
Bell III danced his way around the key, knocking down a handful of skyhooks to suppress the Riders comeback effort.
Heading into the closing 10 minutes, Leicester’s Zach Jackson poured in six fast points to level up the score including a fierce poster transition dunk.
The Riders continuously fought back as the Flyers made use of all their men to anchor down the lead.
A heroic block by Delpeche prevented Leicester from taking back the lead with less than a minute on the clock.
Delpeche’s layup on the very next possession gave the Flyers crowd a huge sigh of relief as a pair of Mike Miller free throws and a King dunk capped off an exciting fixture.
Unable to execute the comeback, the Riders suffer their second defeat in three games.
As for the Flyers, this marks their first win of 2023 and will look to add another win on Sunday on the road to Manchester Giants.
Bristol, Leicester, and London all boast 12 wins each as they occupy the top three table spots.