- National Teams
Unbeaten Division Four side Team Newcastle University led from tip-to-buzzer to win the National Shield as they beat higher-league opponents Liverpool 68-59 in Leeds.
Tayo Oyefusi claimed the MVP award with a dominant double-double of 16 points and 15 rebounds, while Maurice Cole filled the stat-sheet with 17 points, 8 assists and 4 steals and Chuck Duru had 16 points.
“The team played great today,” said MVP winner, Oyefusi. “We got out to a hot start playing our style of team basketball, and when we do that we feel we can play against anyone.
“Everyone had a role to play which they did, including Coach (Ian) Hewitt, who has done an outstanding job with us. It feels awesome (to be MVP). To be able to make an impact and help my team is a great feeling.”
The Knights currently have a perfect 15-0 record in their D4 North group and showed no fear in facing a team currently top of Division Three (North), as they raced out of the blocks with a 13-0 start and maintained the lead throughout the contest.
Liverpool – who were without Spaniard Martin Calvo – struggled to find their range from downtown, failing to net in 11 attempts. Jack Hudson had a game-high 19 points along with 11 assists to lead his team with Chris Bigley and Daniel Pilkington adding 11 points apiece.
“We were too slow to start and Newcastle dominated on rebounds and second and third chances,” said Liverpool Head Coach Tony Walsh. “Their success rate with their 3-point shooting also made a big difference. Congratulations to Coach Hewitt and the team.”
Duru knocked down consecutive triples and Cole scored five points in the 13-0 opening before Bigley stopped the rot to spark an 11-2 response as Liverpool trailed 17-14 at the end of the first. A Chris Carroll basket made it a one-point game in the second, but Matt Brown would later hit back-to-back triples to make it 34-25 at the half-time interval.
Cole fired in a three of his own in the middle of a 9-0 run to start the second half as the lead peaked at 18 points. Again, Liverpool rallied, but a late basket from Oyefusi ensured Newcastle took a double-digit cushion into the final quarter at 51-39.
Liverpool were able to cut the deficit to single figures but could not come any closer than within eight points. Oyefusi was key down the stretch, claiming some big rebounds and hitting clutch free throws to ensure his side closed out the victory.
The final was the first of four Basketball England finals all held at Leeds Beckett University on Saturday, with the Mens Patrons Cup and National Trophy games played later.
Image credit: NUK