Basketball: Newcastle Eagles 85 Sheffield 76 (Eagles win 162-151 on aggregate)

Sharks coach Atiba Lyons
Sharks coach Atiba Lyons

Sheffield Sharks battled bravely but were defeated by Newcastle Eagles last night to end their hopes of reaching the BBL Cup final.

After losing the first leg of the semi-final by just two points in Sheffield a fortnight ago the Sharks were always in with a chance of progressing to the final in Birmingham next month.

But the Eagles, who are the reigning league champions, have already beaten the Sharks three times this season and made it four with an 85-76 victory.

On aggregate the north-east club won the tie 162-151 as Sharks were knocked out of the cup for the third successive year at the semi-final stage.

Sheffield were in the match throughout until the Eagles pulled away in the fourth quarter.

Point guard BJ Holmes hit a three point shot on the buzzer of the first period as Sharks led 21-17 – an overall lead of two points.

Sheffield maintained their advantage in the second quarter. However, after an Eagles time-out the home team went on a 7-0 run, capped by a three from veteran small forward Charles Smith to move 39-36 ahead on the night.

Atiba Lyons’ Sharks fought back with a 7-2 burst of their own to lead 43-41 and level the tie on aggregate.

The decisive moment came in the third quarter as Eagles out-scored Sheffield 13-7 over the last four minutes 38 seconds of the stanza to take a 63-61 lead into the final period.

A 5-0 Eagles run to start the fourth quarter gave Sharks too much to do despite working hard to try and close the gap.

Sharks were led by 20 points from Olu Babalola. Patrick Horstmann had 15 and Nick Lewis 14 points.

Tomorrow Sheffield travel north again to Durham Wildcats in the BBL Championship.