Raiders force OT in brave exit at Eagles
MARJON Plymouth Raiders suffered heartbreak after a sensational second leg effort in the BBL Cup semi-finals on Tyneside last night.
Raiders trailed cup holders Newcastle Eagles by 17 points, 107-90 after Sunday's disastrous first leg at the Pavilions.
Raiders, after leading the second leg by as many as 14, 40-26 had their gap slashed to five, 63-58 early in the fourth quarter.
They then outscored Eagles 26-14 the rest of the way, capped by a three from Jeremy Bell with 29 seconds left, to force overtime.
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But Eagles won the extra frame 11-2 to prevail by nine, 190-181 on aggregate and reach January 13's showpiece in Birmingham.
Both coaches stuck to the starting line-ups who began Sunday's first leg at the Pavilions, with Bell and Michael Ojo in Raiders' backcourt behind a frontline of Colin O'Reilly, Javarris Barnett and Matt Schneck.
Eagles started respectively Damon Huffman, Joe Chapman, Charles Smith, Kareem Maddox and Darius Defoe.
Huffman and Smith were the big dangermen from Sunday when both hit a game-high 29 points.
Raiders opened up a six-point, 14-8 lead on the night in the middle of the first quarter.
Ojo made a two to put Raiders 10-8 up before Schneck from the field and Barnett, converting 2/2 free-throws, pushed it to 14-8.
Eagles player-boss Fab Flournoy, who sat out the first leg with a tight hamstring, came off the bench and scored the last basket of the frame to pull it back to 24-19 and cut Raiders' lead on the night to five.
Raiders quickly regained the momentum at the start of the second, with Schneck, Bell and Schneck all hitting twos to make it 30-19 and bring them back within six points on aggregate.
Eagles, naturally concerned, called a time-out.
O'Reilly then made it 32-19 before Chapman hit a three on ex-Raider Anthony Martin's assist to cut the gap on the night to 10, 32-22. Still, Raiders were right back in it with 6:00 remaining in the half.
Raiders made it 40-26 and cut the gap on aggregate to only three on O'Reilly's three – but that man Chapman replied instantly with a three, which made it 40-29 late in the second.
That was how it remained at half-time with Schneck leading Raiders with a monster 20 points and 11 rebounds already.
Eagles came out with more success in the third quarter and outscored Raiders 16-10 in the opening minutes to slash the deficit on the night right back to five, 50-45 on Flournoy's basket.
But back came Raiders and the lead was rebuilt to 11, 57-46 on reserve centre Liam's Potter score.
Eagles came back at Raiders with threes from first Smith and then Chapman to make it 61-52, but back-to-back baskets from Potter kept Raiders going before Flournoy hit 2/2 free-throws at the end of the third to make it 63-54 heading into the fourth.
The gap on aggregate was up again to eight points.
Eagles pulled it right back to within five, 63-58 on the night early in the fourth and it finally looked ominous for Raiders. But Raiders weren't done and
O'Reilly suddenly got hot for Raiders and scored nine straight points to make it 78-64 and bring it right back to a three-point game on aggregate.
Bell tied it for the first time with a two inside the final two minutes, which made it 86-69.
Huffman scored to put Eagles back up by two and Maddox hit 1/2 free-throws after being fouled by Schneck.
Raiders needed a three to tie it and got it with 29 seconds left from Bell.
Chapman missed a three with a second left and Barnett grabbed the rebound to force overtime. It was 179-179 apiece overall.
Last night: BBL Cup Semi-Finals First Leg: Sheffield 70 Leicester 90
BBL Championship: Manchester 77 Glasgow 83, Mersey 65 Cheshire 92