- National Teams
Northumbria claimed their first BUCS Championship after a strong final quarter display saw them defeat Durham 90-79.
Scott Martin earned the Final MVP award with his 25-point haul helping his side to the title, despite 29 points, 13 rebounds and six assists from Durham’s Chris Jones.
“We are thrilled to win our first BUCS championship,” said Northumbria Head Coach Marc Steutel. “It’s been a little bit of going into the unknown this season, however I must credit all of the players within our programme for they way they have approached the BUCS competition.
“The final was a very good game against an inspired Durham side and Coach (Ralph) Bucci had his guys prepared. Chris Jones gave one of the performances of the season and Bryan Hockaday continued to impress me with his play. It was a good game for the neutral with it being so close throughout and a good spectacle for BUCS basketball.
“Scott Martin was deserved of his MVP award and has been an ever present of our team all season. I thought Darius (Defoe) was super efficient and set the tone for us.”
Durham had eliminated Northumbria for the past three seasons in BUCS competition, but would enter the final as underdogs given their opponents strong displays throughout the 2015 campaign.
The game tipped at 7:15pm at Loughborough’s Sir David Wallace Sports Hall to conclude BUCS Big Wednesday and it was an even encounter early on. The teams were level early on, but it was Durham who managed to ahead as they lead 20-18 at the end of the first. Midway through the second, Northumbria edged ahead and opened up a five point advantage, before Durham hit back with a 6-0 close to go into the half-time interval, 42-41 in front.
Martin regained the lead for his side at the start of the second half, but Durham went on a run and saw their lead peak at 60-52. Northumbria began to whittle down the deficit and an exchange of 3-pointers saw them end the third, trailing 66-60. Jack Thompson caught fire from downtown and hauled Northumbria back into the game with a 3-point barrage, while Charles Smith put his side into the lead.
The lead changed hands a couple more times before Northumbria took over with a 10-0 run that killed the game, and secured their first-ever BUCS Championship title as Durham suffered their third final defeat after runner-up appearances in 2011 and 2012. Thompson finished with 18 points on 5-6 shooting from beyond the arc, while Defoe added a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, and the recent BBL Trophy Final MVP Smith hit double figures with 10 points.
“I really want to take a second to offer special praise for Jack Thompson,” added Steutel. “As a fourth and final year player to be able to impact the game in the way he did says so much about him as a a player and a person. His fourth quarter performance was inspired and completely changed the momentum of the game, for this to be his final ever BUCS game was great for him personally and I’m sure he will remember it for a long time.
“Once again I want to pay credit to all our squad who are a pleasure to work with and represent the university in an outstanding fashion”
Northumbria’s Newcastle Eagles quartet are halfway towards a clean sweep in the BBL, while the D1 side are locked in a battle at the top of D1, and can claim the title if they win their remaining five games, which includes an important showdown at leaders Essex Leopards on Sunday.
Image credit: Team Northumbria