In an action-packed Sunday in the BBL Championship, the top two picked up victories while there were further twists in the race for the Play-Offs.
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle survived a scare in Guildford before eventually seeing off Surrey Scorchers 80-69 with 21 points from Rahmon Fletcher.
Meanwhile, Leicester Riders continued their pursuit as they made it 14 wins on the road in a row with an 89-82 triumph at Cheshire Phoenix, behind Neil Watson’s 25 points.
Elsewhere, Plymouth University Raiders coped without Cory Dixon as they defeated Glasgow Rocks 73-69 as Adrien Sturt racked up 26 points and 16 rebounds.
Marek Klassen recorded a triple-double with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead Leeds Force past London Lions with a 73-65 triumph, while Manchester Giants edged out Bristol Flyers 64-62 thanks to Callum Jones’ late game-winner.
BBL Championship Surrey Scorchers 69 (17,37,60) (Williams 21, Ross-Miller 17, Ogedengbe 14) Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 80 (19,42,58) (Fletcher 21, A Thomson 20, Martin 13)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle survived a huge scare on their way to an 80-69 victory away at Surrey Scorchers in the BBL Championship, on Sunday.
The home side led by five in the fourth, but Newcastle rallied and produced a strong finish to claim the win in the absences of Charles Smith and Drew Lasker.
Rahmon Fletcher stepped up with 21 points for the visitors with Andrew Thomson finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Surrey also played with a seven-man rotation, and found themselves trailing by as many as eight points in the opening period before hitting back with an 8-0 response. Newcastle threatened to pull away again in the second with a 12-4 run, only for the Scorchers to close the gap to just five at the half.
The Eagles maintained their advantage for most of the third, until Tayo Ogedengbe capped a 10-2 run with a three to fire his side into their first lead. Surrey led by two going into the final quarter, and increased their advantage to five at 66-61 inside the opening two minutes.
The game was in the balance, tied at 68 with little over three minutes remaining before the league leaders took over with Fletcher scoring five straight points to spark a game-winning 12-1 run.
Jordan Williams top scored for the Scorchers with 21 points to go with 10 rebounds, while Tayo Ogedengbe also added a double-double with 14 points and 11 boards to move to 998 rebounds in his BBL career.
While Newcastle improve to 24-2 in the BBL Championship, Surrey drop to a 6-19 record as their post-season hopes hang by a thread.
Plymouth University Raiders held off a late fightback from Glasgow Rocks to record a 73-69 home victory in a further boost to their Play-Off hopes.
Adrien Sturt produced a stellar double-double, in the absence of the suspended Cory Dixon, after putting up 24 points to go with 16 boards, while Daryl Corletto added 17 points in his side’s victory.
The home side were fast out of the blocks with a 15-6 start and stormed further clear in the second as a 13-2 burst opened up a commanding 15-point advantage at 34-19. Glasgow rallied somewhat with six straight, but still found themselves down nine at half-time.
Despite Plymouth’s struggles from 3-point range – 3-24 overall – a three from Sturt restored the double-digit cushion in the third with the Raiders up by as many as 17 points. However, 55-38 became 56-50 as the Rocks mounted a stronger fightback to give themselves a chance ahead of the final period.
Plymouth seemingly weathered the storm as they went 66-56 ahead with less than four minutes to go, but the visitors set up an exciting finish with a late 8-2 burst cutting the gap to just two points, before Corletto iced the win from the line.
The Rocks were unable to make it a successful back-to-back in the South West despite double-doubles from Kieron Achara, who had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and Will Hall, who finished with the same points tally along with 13 boards.
Plymouth now join London Lions and Cheshire Phoenix on 11 wins, while Glasgow missed the chance to further close the gap on fourth-placed Sheffield Sharks.
Leeds Force 73 (15,33,53) (Waller 17, Klassen/Marsden 16)
London Lions 65 (21,38,54) (Owumi 18, Watt 13, K Williams 11)
Marek Klassen recorded an impressive triple-double to help earn Leeds Force a 73-65 victory over London Lions.
The Canadian guard finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as the home side overturned a half-time deficit to keep their post-season hopes alive.
Kwan Waller top scored with 17 points, while Rob Marsden added 16 points and 10 rebounds for a fine double-double performance.
Back-to-back triples from Louis Sayers fired Leeds into an early lead, but it was the visitors who gained control with a 10-2 run as they went on to build a double-digit advantage in the second.
Leeds managed to half the deficit heading into the break, and continued to step up their defensive intensity with Lions’ scoring production decreasing each quarter. The visitors led by as many as nine in the third, but when Armand Anebo netted from deep at the buzzer, it was a one-point game heading into the fourth.
London led 57-60 approaching the midway point in the final quarter before Leeds enjoyed a pivotal 11-1 spell with Waller scoring seven points in the run to all but secure the victory.
The Lions were led by Alex Owumi’s 18 points as they suffered their second loss on the weekend to fall to an 11-13 record with their spot in the Play-Offs far from guaranteed.
Cheshire Phoenix 82 (25,45,66) (Rochford 26, Ellis 21, Taylor 12)
Leicester Riders overcame a tough challenge on the road to defeat Cheshire Phoenix 89-82 and keep up the pressure on BBL Championship leaders, Esh Group Eagles Newcastle.
Back-to-back triples from Tyler Bernardini and Neil Watson down the stretch helped the visitors see off Cheshire for their 14th away success in a row as they improve to 19-2 in the league.
Watson led the way with a team-high 25 points, while Drew Sullivan provided valuable support with a double-double from the bench with 16 points and 11 rebounds as he passed 4,000 career points in the BBL Championship.
It was the home side who made the stronger start with a 12-1 run opening up an 11-point cushion in the first quarter.
The Riders stormed ahead with a 20-5 spell across quarters, although some clinical 3-point shooting from Akeem Ellis ensured his side went into half-time with the lead, whilst taking his personal points tally to 18.
There was little to split between the two sides in the third with multiple lead changes, but Shane Walker gave Leicester a slender lead to take into the all-important final quarter. Cheshire levelled at 72, but never led in the fourth.
Kinu Rochford made it a two-point game heading into the final two minutes, but Bernardini and Watson netted dagger blows from beyond the arc to finally put the home side away.
Rochford had 26 points and 11 rebounds with Ellis finishing on 21 points as the Nix drop to 11-15.
Manchester Giants 64 (24,36,52) (Gill 23, Larkai 14, Jones 13)
Bristol Flyers 62 (17,32,53) (Seilund 18, McFarland 15, Lee 12)
Callum Jones netted the game-winner as Manchester Giants climbed off the foot of the table with a 64-62 victory at home to Bristol Flyers.
Jones’ mid-range jumpshot handed the Giants their seventh win of the season as they edged out Bristol in a low-scoring contest.
Stefan Gill top scored with 23 points on his return from suspension, while Dzaflo Larkai added 14 points before fouling out late on and Jones finished with 13.
Larkai scored the opening four points of the game in a strong start for the Giants as they scored 24 first-quarter points to lead by seven. Points proved harder to come by from that point forward with Bristol holding the home side to just 12 in the second as they reduced their arrears.
Roy Owen cut the gap to a single point with a three towards the start of the second half, and the Flyers moved into the lead when Cardell McFarland later followed suit.
Bristol led by one heading into the fourth, and after both teams struggled to add to their totals, the game was tied at 58 with five minutes remaining. Twice, the visitors levelled, but were unable to do so a third time as Jones’ basket proved decisive.
The Flyers are now four wins adrift of the Play-Off places as they drop to a 7-16 record, with Manchester improving to 7-21 in the league.