WORCESTER Wolves put forward their best performance of the year so far when upsetting the visiting Newcastle Eagles.
An initially-tight contest was blown apart in a last quarter of action that saw the reigning BBL champions held to just 14 points while the Wolves went off on a 29-point tear of their own on their way to the final 88-73 victory.
A composed outing for Sherrad Prezzie-Blue on his return to the University of Worcester was accompanied by a stunning 20-point and eight rebounds debut for new signing Kai Williams, as Newcastle tasted defeat for the second time this season.
The pattern of the game was set early with neither side able to dominate. Big Worcester centre Arturas Masiulis opened his scoring account with a couple of sky hooks over the heads of Newcastle defenders before he was benched following two quick fouls.
Eagles’ centre Kareem Maddox was then able to make the most of the greater room around the Wolves’ basket to contribute 10 points to his team’s 17-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
As the second period began, Prezzie-Blue passed the ball to Williams, who floated it home from the right corner of the court for his first-ever points in a Wolves vest.
A few moments later Williams took another assist from Prezzie-Blue and this time bagged a three-point basket, bringing the sides level at 21-21 with three minutes gone.
With Prezzie-Blue slotting straight back into his role as point guard, off-guard Alex Owumi revelled in the freedom to play his more natural game and soon notched up a trio of scores from outside the arc as the teams again drew level at 34-34 with a couple of minutes remaining in the half. As time wound down towards the interval, Wolves had possession at their own end with five seconds to go.
Prezzie-Blue took the inbounded ball and galloped towards the Newcastle basket, bringing the crowd to their feet as he let fly despite hands in his face and saw his three-point shot drop successfully as time expired, edging his side to a 46-33 advantage.
In the third quarter, the Eagles showed their championship qualities in managing to largely hold back all of the scoring aspects of their hosts, aside from Masiulis, who continued to prove troublesome close to the hoop.
Nine points from Masiulis was answered by balanced scoring from the Eagles, with the game poised at 59-59 going into the last 10 minutes.
It was Williams and Prezzie-Blue who rose to the occasion to break the game open in the final period. In the first four minutes a solitary basket from ex-Great Britain forward Darius Defoe was the Eagles only answer to an explosion of scoring from the Worcester combo.
Firstly there was a three from Williams, then one from Prezzie-Blue, another from Williams, and then two points for Prezzie-Blue. By the time former Worcester guard Anthony Martin hacked at Williams as he drove past him, a 73-61 cushion had been established.
Scores from Maddox and Defoe gave brief hope to Newcastle, lessening the margin to 74-67 with three minutes left, but Wolves were able to keep their opponents at arm’s length for the rest of the game.
The night ended in fitting fashion as home supporters once more danced in delight at seeing a wonderful Prezzie-Blue and Williams combination.
Prezzie-Blue raced clear from Wolves’ half of the court and, instead of taking an easy lay-up, flipped the ball off the backboard for the trailing Williams to dunk home and ice the 88-73 triumph.