NEWCASTLE Eagles extended their lead at the top of the BBL Championship after a comfortable victory over the Sheffield Sharks last night.
Despite a spirited fightback in the third quarter from the visitors, Eagles regained their composure to seal a third successive victory over the Sharks.
It was the Eagles 12th league win in 13 outings.
Newly crowned BBL Cup winners Newcastle, who overcame Atiba Lyons’ side 86-67 and 85-80 in October, took control of the contest early on at Sport Central, racing into a 9-0 lead and were deservedly 27-15 in front at the end of the first quarter after the Sharks spurned a number of guilt-edged opportunities to put more points on the board.
The hosts Charles Smith, who was outstanding against UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders at the NIA last Sunday, sunk a free throw in the dying embers of the second quarter to stretch their advantage to 47-20 as the Sharks looked down and out.
But led by the impressive Nate Reinking, who finished joint top scorer with 18, the visitors reduced the deficit in the third period to 65-51.
However, Smith extinguished any hopes of a dramatic Sharks comeback by scoring early in the final quarter after combining well with Joe Chapman.
Mike Tuck trimmed Newcastle’s lead to 14 again with two minutes left before the hosts pulled away late on.
n SHARKS: Reinking 18, Tuck 12, Babalola 11, Lyons, Sing, Gachette 8, Dobbins 2
In the other match last night, Leicester Riders were 85-66 winners at Mersey Tigers, with Bradd Wierzbicki leading the scoring with 20 for the visitors.