WORCESTER Wolves marched through to the semi-finals of the BBL Trophy after overcoming Newcastle Eagles.
The Wolves ended an Eagles unbeaten run of 11 games at their own court dating back to last October.
For three quarters of the game the outcome was in the balance. But a stunning burst of 18 points without reply to begin the last period powered Wolves into a decisive lead, leaving their hosts shell-shocked and unable to respond.
Jamal Williams was the star of the scoring surge, drilling 11 points in less than a couple of minutes, on his way to an eventual 23 points, his biggest single-game contribution since coming to Worcester.
Zaire Taylor led all scorers with 24 points, while Will Creekmore once more submitted a double-double performance, tallying 17 points and 12 rebounds. Great Britain international Darius Defoe top-scored for Newcastle with 22 points.
Wolves coach Paul James said: “It was an absolutely marvellous performance. We stuck to our game plan, we shared the ball around and it all paid off with the win. The character shown by the players was tremendous.”
Stefan Djukic won the ball from the tip-off and assisted his fellow forward Kalil Irving to open the contest with a three-pointer. By six minutes into the proceedings, with Wolves holding a slender 12-10 advantage, both Jamal and Kai Williams had stepped onto court from the bench. At the close of the quarter, the brothers had tallied five points apiece, extending the lead to 30-20.
Newcastle’s player–coach Fab Flournoy opened his account as the second quarter began and set up Defoe for a couple of useful baskets, halving the deficit to 37-32 by midway through the period.
A triple from American guard Paul Gause helped close matters further to 42-40, before his opposite number Taylor popped up with five late points to restore a 47-40 first-half cushion.
Veteran forward Charles Smith was first off the mark for Eagles after the interval and continued input from the reliable Defoe once more reduced the home side’s arrears.
With four minutes remaining in the third period the hosts had finally edged ahead at 53-50, a lead they held until the end of the quarter, with the match poised at 60-56.
It was from here that the visitors accelerated into the distance. Centre Creekmore sparked the burst, before Wolves captain Alex Owumi nailed his first basket to push his side back in front at 61-60.
Jamal Williams was fouled in the act of scoring and duly converted the bonus free throw as he set off on his astonishing whirlwind of personal points.
Another inside score was swiftly followed by a double of shots floated in from long distance to leave Newcastle floundering at 72-60 and held at bay until the final buzzer.
James added: “Our so-called big three of Alex, Will and Zaire will always do what they do, but we also need other players to make their mark and Jamal certainly did that. He was red-hot in the last quarter with some fabulous moves.”