In a closely fought encounter, Newcastle couldn’t overcome a very clinical Northumbria side that made it two wins out of two in front of an atmospheric Sport Central crowd.
Newcastle had the better of the opening exchanges after Northumbria had taken a 2-0 lead. Irving Eggleston Jr.’s layup pulled the Knights level after a neat one-two with Alei Wol, and then Richard Austin’s three-pointer extended Newcastle’s lead, having been picked out by captain Romonn Nelson.
Northumbria’s Espin scored two points to put the home side within one point of Newcastle, but Alberto Cessel was on hand to restore the Knights’ three-point lead. Again, Northumbria cut down Newcastle’s lead with a speedy counter-attack, but Newcastle hit back through Austin’s perfect free throws to notch up the scoreboard to 9-13.
As time went on in the first quarter, Northumbria managed to find their rhythm and take control of the game. In an attempt to restore their dominance, Newcastle coach Ian Hewitt brought on Oliver Hannam for Cessel, but the No.10 struggled to make an impact.
By the time Austin had scored Newcastle next two points of the game, Northumbria has scored 12, racing into a 21-15 lead. Cessel returned to the court, and gave the Knights more of a penetrating edge.
From Wol’s pass, Newcastle’s No.13 dropped the shoulder but couldn’t squeeze the three-pointer in, but quickly made amends by scoring two to reduce the deficit to 26-17 at the end of the first quarter.
Newcastle’s fortunes in the break didn’t improve either as Rory the Lion lost the dance-off to Polly the arrogant Parrot. Nevertheless, the Knights came back strong in the second quarter, as two Eggleston Jr. two-pointers put the boys in white back in contention.
With Newcastle looking to get back in the game, tensions were high. After two free throws were scored by Wol, Cessel was seemingly impeded by the Northumbria No.4. Having not heard the referee’s whistle, Cessel got back to his feet and gave a little back. The Northumbria lad hit the deck faster than a lead-lined sack of steel potatoes and a little bit of argy-bargy followed.
Having witnessed the advertising hoardings take a battering, Newcastle began to slow the play down. Knights captain Nelson began to trouble the Northumbria defence, scoring nine points in a row to give Newcastle hope going into the third quarter.
As time went on in the first quarter, Northumbria managed to find their rhythm
Half-time provided the crowd with a few important insights. Editor of the Courier, Jade Holroyd, can bag one from 15ft out, and that Newcastle’s sock game is on-point. Northumbria’s anklewear on the day was disappointing.
Northumbria took control after the break, slowing Newcastle down with tight defence, and hitting them hard on the counter with brilliantly quick offensive play.
In offence, Newcastle’s plays were still paying dividends, however. Hannam set up Eggleston Jr. for two points, before pinpoint passing from Hannam and Austin gave Wol an unchallenged layup from a couple of yards out.
At 46-35 the Knights still didn’t lose spirit, and a quick-fire five points from Romonn Nelson again gave the visitors hope. The first two points came from a swift counter-attack, whilst Eggleston Jr. set him up for a three-pointer from 22 yards out.
Being within six points, Newcastle sensed an opportunity. However, despite finding the basket, Eggelston Jr.’s effort was ruled out and Northumbria capitalised on the decision to score at the other end.
Going into the final quarter, Newcastle trailed Northumbria 58-45. No doubt the Little Mix blaring in the break won’t have helped concentration, but Northumbria pulled away with relative ease.
The rowdy Newcastle crowd were there to cheer when regular impressive three-pointers from Eggleston Jr. found the basket, especially a delicious effort from the right-hand-side of the court after being fed by Josh Syzmanis.
Richard Austin finished off the game with a nonchalant three-pointer, but the final score was a resounding 88-62.
On the day Northumbria found more in their locker, especially defensively, than Newcastle. The Knights can look forward to the BUCS Final 16s in the coming weeks, but Team Newcastle will have to pull a few miraculous results out of the bag to be able to claim this year’s Stan Calvert Memorial Cup.