Leicester Riders put on a dominant display to thrash their old rivals Newcastle Eagles 101-63 at the Morningside Arena.
These two clubs have faced each other more times than any other sides in the BBL, but in the 132 previous meeting neither has ever beaten the other by so many points. Only Leicester’s 134-92 victory in the days before the BBL was formed has there been a wider margin than the 38 points Riders won by.
Rahmon Fletcher got the Eagles off to a flying start, netting two three-pointers as he scored all his side’s points in an 8-2 opening. Captain Andy Thomson entered the fray and twice hit from behind the arc as Leicester poured in 14 unanswered points to lead 23-13.
Josh Ward-Hibbert looked back to his all-action best as he gave Leicester a real spark off the bench at both ends of the floor and Riders kept the Eagles at arm’s length through the second quarter. Late three-pointers from Namon Wright, who was scoring freely, and Ward-Hibbert saw Riders head into the break with a 15-point lead having kept the Eagles to only 34 first half points.
Riders were keen to land the knock-out blow early in the third quarter, Jesse Chuku with five of nine unanswered points as the lead reached 60-39.
Eagles, missing their main scoring threat of CJ Gettys through injury, ran out of ideas as the game wore on, but Riders were in no mood to offer any sympathy. Thomson and Wright hitting back-to-back triples as another ten points without reply made it 81-54 and the home crowd could scarcely believe how easily their team was taking apart their fiercest rivals.
With points difference now more important in the revised league format than it has been in recent years, Riders continued to accelerate with the tiebreaker in mind, Darien Nelson-Henry netting his first three-pointer of the season as he had seven points in an 11-3 run to move the lead into the thirties.
And then in the dying seconds, Namon Wright capped his best scoring night in a Riders’ shirt with a fourth three-pointer to lead the way with 29 points. Ward-Hibbert posted an impressive double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, to go with three steals and three assists, but there were contributions from all angles as Riders dominated the game from tip to buzzer.
Riders: Wright 29, Nelson-Henry 19, Ward-Hibbert 18, Thomson 9, Chuku 8, Johnson 7, Anderson 5, Spencer 4, Cartwright 2, Roberts, Jimenez, Scott.
Eagles: Aded-Hussein 16, Fletcher 14, Defoe 13, Williams 7, Morsell 6, Glasgow 5, Saunders 2, Yabantu, Schlitzer.
The Riders return to action on February 29th when they take on the Sheffield Sharks, CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets!