Ending a challenging losing streak and reasserting their dominance on the court, the Eagles showcased resilience and determination, securing a well-deserved victory against a Leicester Riders side that had beaten them at the same venue just a fortnight ago.
Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles starting five: Rickey McGill, Devin Whitfield, Jordan Johnson, Malcolm Delpeche, Tajh Green
Leicester Riders starting five: Miryne Thomas, Xavier Pinson, Caleb Asberry, Jaren Holmes, Braelen Bridges
In a thrilling first half showdown between the Newcastle Eagles and the visiting Leicester Riders, the game unfolded with intensity and rapid scoring exchanges.
The Riders came out of the gate with a scorching hot hand from beyond the arc, nailing four triples to seize a commanding 12-2 lead. Guards Miryne Thomas and Xavier Pinson were the architects of this early surge, leaving Eagles’ coach Marc Steutel with no choice but to call for an early timeout to regroup.
The Eagles, however, displayed admirable resilience as energetic guard Jordan Johnson attacked the rim with authority, earning his first two points with a powerful layup. Rickey McGill joined the charge with an assertive fast break, drawing a foul and breaking down the Riders’ defence.
Larry Austin Jr. exhibited his dribbling finesse with a mesmerizing and-one play for the hosts, showcasing his ability to create opportunities even under pressure. Shortly after, Eagles forward Will Neighbour stepped up with a pivotal five-point contribution, pulling the hosts back into contention after facing a double-digit deficit, trailing the Riders by just four points at the end of the period (16-20).
Neighbour continued to make an impact coming off the Eagles’ bench, orchestrating a beautiful setup for Devin Whitfield for an easy basket, bringing the game back to a tie.
The momentum took a dramatic shift in favour of the Eagles with consecutive three-pointers that turned the game on its head, giving them their first lead of the contest. The Riders were held scoreless for two agonising minutes as the Eagles inched ahead.
As the first half wound down, tempers flared on the court, with both teams fiercely determined to seize the advantage and the Eagles having Neighbour and mercurial forward Tajh Green ejected. A late 9-0 scoring run by the Leicester Riders saw them regain the lead, but the Newcastle Eagles managed to grind out a pair of buckets through their seasoned veterans, Josh Ward-Hibbert and Darius Defoe, keeping the scoreline close as they headed into halftime. The Leicester Riders held a narrow 43-42 lead, setting the stage for an exciting second half of basketball action.
This electrifying matchup continued throughout the second half, as the Eagles and Riders battled fiercely for the win and all bragging rights that would come with it.
Johnson wasted no time opening the second half scoring for the Eagles, and it was quickly matched by a powerful move inside from Riders centre Braelen Bridges, bringing the game back to an even keel.
The third quarter belonged to the sharpshooting skills of Rickey McGill. His hot hand was on full display as he drained both a corner three and an elbow jump shot in quick succession, accounting for 8 of Newcastle’s first 10 points in the second half, pushing the hosts into a 55-52 lead.
Despite McGill’s dominant scoring, the Riders steadily crept back from a double-digit deficit, thanks to clean fast break scores by Samuel Idowu and Jaren Holmes. This brought the score to 65-59, setting the stage for a thrilling final quarter.
The Leicester Riders, determined to make a last-minute push, added an extra layer of drama to the game. Riders’ captain Kimbal Mackenzie knocked down his second three of the game, followed by Jaren Holmes muscling his way inside to add two more crucial points, narrowing the gap.
In the end, despite Leicester’s valiant efforts to regain the lead, with Thomas boasting a 22 points and 10 rebound double-double, the sharpshooting prowess of the Eagles’ McGill was the difference-maker. With a stunning 31-point performance, including six deep three-pointers, McGill’s offensive brilliance put the game just out of reach for the Riders, resulting in a thrilling 95-90 victory for the Newcastle Eagles.
Player of the Game:
Rickey McGill’s performance in this matchup was nothing short of spectacular, making him the Player of the Game. The Eagles’ sharpshooter left an indelible mark on the contest, delivering a scoring masterclass that was a sight to behold.
|Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles||Rickey McGill||31||5||5|
|Seriös Group Newcastle Eagles||Jordan Johnson||21||3||3|
|Leicester Riders||Miryne Thomas||22||10||2|
|Leicester Riders||Xavier Pinson||19||4||3|
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