WORCESTER Wolves shocked a sell-out crowd at Sports Central Newcastle when beating the Eagles in the BBL Trophy quarter-finals.
Neither side were able to pull clear until the final minute when Eagles were reduced to fouling Wolves to stay in the contest.
Wolves guard Alex Owumi dominated the scoring with 34 points, including seven three-pointers, setting his team up for a two-legged semi-final against Leicester Riders.
Eagles centre Kareem Maddox opened with a dunk before Wolves’ Arturas Masiulis also slotted the ball home. Both players netted four points each over the next few minutes.
Sherrad Prezzie-Blue returned from injury to take over at point guard, laying on a pass for Stan Ocitti to connect with a three-pointer as Wolves led the first period 23-20.
The second began with a triple from Joe Chapman and was quickly followed by another Maddox score.
The lead see-sawed and Worcester trailed 35-32 with three minutes left until the interval before Owumi produced a burst of scoring. A close-range basket was followed by three free throws when he was fouled.
Another three completed Owumi’s 16 first-half haul and took Wolves to 40-37 before six late Newcastle points restored the hosts’ lead.
Owumi and Masiulis opened the second-half scoring but guard Anthony Martin tallied five to nudge Eagles back ahead.
When Maddox slotted four free throws, Wolves faced their largest deficit at 55-48 with four minutes of the third quarter remaining.
However, forward Arnas Kazlauskas scored and quickly contributed a further five to tie the teams at 61-61.
Prezzie-Blue began the last quarter with a triple and swiftly nailed another score after stealing from veteran Charles Smith.
His joy was short-lived, however, when forced to leave the court after aggravating the earlier injury.
A Maddox free throw topped off a 5-0 run to reduce Wolves’ lead to 69-68 with seven minutes left. After contributing 21 points and 14 rebounds, Newcastle's Maddox committed his fifth foul and had to leave the court.
With more room available around the basket, Masiulis took advantage with five points.
When Owumi sank his sixth three-pointer, Wolves led 77-71 with four minutes left. But Trophy holders Eagles secured nine points from Smith to trail 84-82 in the final two minutes.
However, Wolves’ stand-in playmaker Carlos Fernandez snatched a score as did Ocitti and daylight was restored at 88-83 with 49 seconds left as they sealed a memorable victory from the foul-line.
Head coach Paul James said: “It was a superb performance. It was a physical game but all our players did their job.”
Of Owumi, James added: “That was what you call an MVP (most valuable player) performance. He was tremendous. He flat out refused to let us lose.”
Wolves’ next highest scorers were Masiulis and Ocitti with 19 and 13 points respectively. Ocitti also grabbed 13 rebounds.