Championship Preview: Riders at Eagles

The Riders return to action after a winning weekend of action, facing the Newcastle Eagles on the road. 

The 8-2 Riders are coming off back-to-back wins, ready to play an Eagles team that has endured a difficult start to the season. 

Here’s how the teams shape up…

Fixture information 

Leicester Riders at Newcastle Eagles

Saturday, February 17, 7:30 pm

Vertu Motors Arena 

Watch Live!

Two-win weekend 

The Riders are coming off an impressive weekend of wins, beating the Cardiff Met Archers and Durham Palatinates in back-to-back days. 

They won by an average margin of 37 points, making a statement with dominant victories. They won every quarter of the weekend and maintained their pursuit of the top end of the table. 

Rayven Peeples dominated the weekend on the glass, notching two double-doubles on her way to a Team of the Week nomination. She averaged 16 points and 13 rebounds across the two games. 

The Riders, led by Peeples, have set the tone on the glass on their way to eight wins this season. They rank second in rebounding (0.1 rebounds per game behind the top-ranked London Lions) and first in offensive rebounding. 

Playing against an Eagles team who have struggled to pull down boards this season, will play a large factor in the North East. 

Newcastle looking for form 

Having lost the last three Championship fixtures, the Newcastle Eagles are looking for a win to turn their season around. 

Losses to Oaklands Wolves, Essex Rebels and London Lions are responsible for the poor run of fixtures. They enter this game after a loss against the League-leading Lions, who won 102-56 at home. 

They pulled off back-to-back wins against Durham and Cardiff in mid-December, but failed to build off their form to make a rise up the table. 

They have struggled on the boards this season, ranking second-last in offensive rebounds and third-last in defensive rebounds as the Eagles struggle to generate second possession and close defensive ones.

They’ll need to improve in this department to overcome the glass-crashing Leicester Riders. 

Key matchup 

Eagles’ December signing Tierra Hodges has exploded onto the scene in Newcastle, leading the League in scoring through five games. 

The 5’9” wing is scoring 23.2 points per game, went off for 30 points on her debut and has failed to score 20 points in just one game for the Eagles. 

Hodges signed in the North East after an outstanding collegiate career at Furman University and an excellent rookie campaign last season in Finland.

In her final college season, she was named first-team all-conference by coaches and media, led the Southern Conference in rebounding with 10.4 per game and ranked third in scoring with 16.2 per game 

The American’s performances in the British Basketball League earned her the Player of the Month award for December. 

Facing up against her is another Player of the Month, Sam Ashby, who won the award for her efforts in January. 

Ashby balled out against Durham last week, leading the game’s scoring with 21 points, and logged 6 rebounds and 5 steals in the win.

Ashby’s performances this season earned her a spot on the GB roster earlier in the year. She’s averaging 12.9 points per game and ranks fourth in the League in steals with 2.4 per game. 

Expect this battle from the wing position to play a significant role in the outcome of this clash.