Match report by British Basketball League

Caledonia Gladiators 58-60 Newcastle Eagles

Newcastle Eagles pulled off a major upset against Caledonia Gladiators, securing a 60-58 overtime win with a gritty defensive second-half performance.

Caledonia had the upper hand heading into the second half, and had led by as many as 11 points in the opening 20 minutes.

Newcastle went through the gears on defence to hold the hosts under 20 points in the second half, sealing the game with two final free-throws in the dying moments of overtime.

This brought Caledonia’s season to a heartbreaking end, as Newcastle pulled off a second Playoff upset to book a spot in next week’s Final.

Starting Fives

Caledonia Gladiators: Samantha Roscoe, Hannah Robb, Ariadna Pujol, Erin McGarrachan, Laken James.

Newcastle Eagles: Chloe Gaynor, Marina Fernandez Pardo, Abby Lowe, Lauren Saiki, Tierra Hodges.

First Half

Having upset the Sheffield Hatters in the first round, Newcastle Eagles were looking to do the same to a strong Caledonia Gladiators side for a place at the O2 Arena.

Caledonia started the game strongly, making four of their first five attempts from the field, setting the tone and taking a seven-point lead with two minutes gone.

Newcastle’s Tierra Hodges took over for the visitors with seven in the opening stanza to close the gap. Laken James’ scoring kept the hosts a few ahead.

A slower end to the period saw the Eagles put pressure on the Gladiators. Chloe Gaynor tied the game with a floater, following Jada Dapaa’s bucket. Erin McGarrachan’s jumper separated the sides in the first, with Caledonia taking a 17-15 lead into the second.

Newcastle took the lead for the first time through Dapaa and Gaynor, before the home side turned up the heat.

Laken James ignited a 13-point unanswered run for the Scots from behind the arc – seven of those points were her own. Newcastle’s scoreless six-and-a-half minutes came to an end thanks to Zoe Willis at the line.

Hodges and Kapaa continued to keep the scoreboard ticking for the visitors, bringing what was an 11-point deficit down to seven. Caledonia maintained control with a 35-28 lead at the half.

Second Half

The third quarter was defensive and scrappy. A total of 16 points was posted between the sides in the period, who could barely be separated.

Dapaa and Hodges continued to be the the Eagle’s driving forces. The pair were only joined by Abby Lowe in their scoring in the third. Sam Roscoe had five of Caledonia’s seven total during the period.

Only five points separated the sides after the third, and Newcastle were in the ascendancy thanks to their lockdown defence.

Roscoe and Hodges battled in both paints, as deep shots didn’t fall.

Caledonia only has two points on the board in the fourth until four minutes left in the game. Newcastle in the same time managed eight, taking the lead for the first time since the first half.

Both sides turned the screw on the scoring front in the final four minutes. Newcastle led by as many as five in the closing stages, and looked in control until trips from the charity stripe brought Caledonia back to within a point.

Dapaa came up with a pivotal steal and one make from the line to push the lead to two. Glads tied the game on the final possession in regulation, with a huge put back coming from McGarrachan off her original miss.

The winner of this one would be decided by overtime with the sides level at 54-apiece after 40 minutes.

A low-scoring overtime period saw Newcastle come up with a massive upset, breaking Gladiator hearts.

Caledonia had a chance to win the game through James, but McGarrachan’s eagerness to grab the rebound off the miss saw the referee call a holding foul. Chloe Gaynor stamped Newcastle’s ticket to the O2 with a perfect trip to the line, and a perfect result after their defensive performance.

Caledonia’s season came to a gut-wrenching end, falling just short by a scoreline of 60-58.