Sunday 8th March 2020
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 67 Newcastle Eagles 66
The B. Braun Sharks exchanged places in the BBL table with Newcastle Eagles, taking a close-fought one point win over their North East rivals. It was never more than a two possession game for thirty minutes but a 7-0 tear at the start of the fourth quarter gave the Sharks the impetus to hang on for their second win of the weekend.
Sharks: Lewis, Cashaw, McKnight, Tuck, Koch.
Eagles: Glasgow, Morsell, Aded-Hussein, Defoe, Fletcher.
For three quarters, both sides were virtually inseparable. After Cashaw’s steal and bucket gave the Sharks the lead, scores were traded consistently. Glasgow put Newcastle ahead at 6-7 and Kai Williams triple saw them maintain that at 14-16. Cashaw’s throwdown in the final thirty seconds tied the game at 18-18 before Hussein restored the Eagles lead at 18-20.
Bennett Koch’s slam opened the second quarter but Saunders corner trey and Morsell’s free throw saw Newcastle take a six point lead at 22-28. Mike Tuck, who had a fascinating battle with fellow veteran Darius Defoe all afternoon, came up with the and one play that hauled the Sharks back into the game and Connor Cashaw eurostepped to the hoop to give the Sharks a 35-33 lead. Rahmon Fletcher concluded the scoring for the half but 35-36 reflected that there was very little between the sides going into the locker rooms.
Hopes of a breakout failed to materialise as Tuck’s three point score was swiftly matched by Aded-Hussein at the beginning of the third period. Morsell jammed the ball home to give Newcastle a 42-43 lead but the bucket trade continued for the entire quarter. McKnight’s layup on Lewis’ assist ended the stanza; the teams still giving no quarter at 53-49.
A 7-0 run at the top of the fourth finally gave the Sharks a chink of light. Bouna Ndiaye’s steal fed Mackey McKnight to put the Sharks up by 60-49, the biggest lead of the game. Glasgow’s trey showed that Newcastle hadn’t yet gone away but the Sharks were resilient; Bennett Koch going to a hard-earned and well deserved double double on an and one play at 64-56. A 1-7 run from the Eagles finished by Rodney Glasgow took Newcastle to within two at 65-63 going into the final minute. A crucial defensive stop from the Sharks saw the Eagles into a timeout but their subsequent play amounted to nothing, Mackey McKnight icing two stone cold free throws to put the Sharks ahead by 67-63. Morsell’s trey on the buzzer saw the contest end at 67-66 – a nailbitingly close scoreline but not reflective of how the Sharks managed the win down the stretch.
There was an intriguing battle of the vets – Mike Tuck shading the equally experienced Darius Defoe with 11 points and 8 rebounds. The Sharks only connected on one of 24 three point attempts but Nick Lewis again showed his tremendous worth to the team in a defensive battle with 12 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assists and 3 steals. Bennett Koch put up a trojan display. His physical presence under the hoop was one of the keys to success and his 10 points and 14 rebounds were testament to a bruising but hardworking performance. The MVP award went the way of Mackey McKnight. The Houston native, still battling jetlag, had ice in his veins, sinking the two free throws that made it a two possession game at the end. His 12 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals in a defensive scrap gave the Sharks a crucial advantage and capped a highly successful weekend overall.
Atiba Lyons declared it a ‘fantastic’ win and praised the effort plays that got his team over the line.
Next home game
B. Braun Sharks v Cheshire Phoenix, Friday 20th March 2020, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, 7.30pm tip off.