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Report: Newcastle Eagles 97-86 Bristol Flyers

Bristol Flyers fell to a 97-86 defeat against Newcastle Eagles in the first leg of the BBL play-off quarter-finals.

Led by a team-high 20 points from Rohndell Goodwin, Flyers return home on Sunday needing to win by 12 or more points to advance to the semi-finals.



Flyers got off to a strong start, trading baskets with the Eagles and keeping the score close. With the score 12 to 10 Eagles asserted themselves. Newcastle managed to piece together an 8-0 run to create a lead. Eagles success came with points off turnovers and dribble penetration punishing the help defender with drop off passes for easy scores. Darius Defoe punctuated the run with a fierce two handed slam.

The second quarter saw Flyers play tough defence to find stops and eat into the lead, cutting it back to a tie game at 41 with under a minute to go in the half. Eagles called time out and the with a basket from Jaysean Paige to head into half time up two, 43-41.

Goodwin continued his aggressive play, first winning a contested rebound and making the coast-to-coast layup. He then made a pull up jumper on the next play to tie the game at 45 points.

Eagles kept their composure and answered immediately with a basket, shortly followed with an open three from Jure Gunjina. Flyers struggled to score through the rest of the quarter while Eagles rebuilt their lead on a foundation of outside shooting. A dagger three from Zarko Jukic extended the lead to 63-49 and forced Coach Kapoulas to call time out with three minutes remaining in the quarter.

Scrappy play followed the time out with both sides turning the ball over but failing to finish the break. Brandon Boggs ended the drought with a pull up jumper over Kai Williams but the Eagles immediately answered with another three. With further adjustments clearly needed, Flyers called a second time out, now down 68-51. The team rallied back and finished out the quarter with a 5-0 run topped off by a corner three from Leslee Smith.

Eagles remained hot from beyond the arc, with Kai Williams making a deep three. Flyers continued to pressure the paint with Smith converting a sweet alley-oop pass from Adam Weary and making the and-one. Jordan Davis had been active on the boards all night, as ever battling over taller opposition to grab rebounds. He capitalised with a lob for a Brandon Boggs dunk. Despite the offense finding rhythm, Flyers were unable to contain Eagles on defence and the lead remained at 17 points as the game entered the last five minutes.

Davis forced the issue to draw a foul and convert the free throws. A stop at the other end caused Coach Fab Flournoy to call a timeout with just under four minutes to go.

Rohndell Goodwin came out strong with a deep go-ahead three.  Next time up a big offensive board from Daniel Edozie led to Jordan Davis drawing a shooting foul for three attempts from the line, converting all three to punish the Eagles. Darius Defoe fouled out of the game with three minutes to play, putting the Eagles into the penalty.

Flyers capitalised with a further trip to the line for Brandon Boggs and a basket interference call against an overzealous Jukic, who had attempted to tip the ball off the basket, ensured a further two points. Adam Weary followed up with a triple to cut the lead down and force a further Eagles time out with the score 92-80.  

Coming out of the time-out Jukic fouled Edozie on a dunk attempt to allow the Flyers big man a trip to the free throw line. Sensing a chance to capitalise on the shift in momentum, Coach K called his last time out of the game.

With a minute to recharge, Edozie coolly and cleanly made both shots. Nimley answered with another three but Flyers kept up the pressure inside with Edozie making a contested tip in. Eagles mirrored the play with a second chance score of their own from Jukic. Davis seized an opportunity with a smart dribble move to draw a further foul from Jukic and again made both free throws - despite struggling from the floor he made eight of nine foul shots in the game and led the team in rebounding with nine boards. The clock ran down on a last ditch missed three from Nimley and Flyers finished the game behind 97-86.

The first leg of the play-offs ends with Flyers down a mere eleven points with the home leg still to play at the SGS College Arena on Sunday, May 6th (3.30pm).

Report by Owen Parker