Deng, Tucker lift Eagles to victory
In a game which had an unusually large number of scrambles and charging fouls, as well as a couple of unsportsmanlike fouls, the Eagles’ shooting was too hot for their opponents, making 51 per cent of their field goals and 83 per cent of their free throws.
Holding a seven point half-time lead, the Eagles built an unassailable advantage by scoring 29 points to 18 in the third.
The Eagles, now 2-0 and in second position, led by as much as 24 midway through the fourth, thanks to a sweet fadeaway from Deng, before the Sabres added some respectability to the scoreboard by totalling 15 of the game’s final 19 points.
Deng finished with 16 points on 57 per cent shooting, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks, while Tucker had 13 points, 18 rebounds, 9 assists and 7 turnovers.
Adam Doyle (14 points, 5 assists), Trent Fildes (13 points, 4 assists), Brad Sullivan (13 points) and Brad Gerlach (11 points, 71 per cent field goal, 4 rebounds) also scored in double figures for the Eagles, who outscored the Sabres 54-36 in the paint.
For the Sabres, now 0-2 and sitting eighth, Tom Daly was the shining light with 25 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Daly drew 9 fouls during his 37 minutes of action, but 36ers counterpart Darren Ng was held to just 9 points off the bench.
Wright’s performance was marred by a technical foul after the half-time buzzer, which led to two points from Doyle before any time had elapsed in the third quarter.
Prior to that, the Sabres had clawed their way back from an 11 point deficit to be as close as 5.
The Eagles threatened to blow them away in the first quarter, but the Sabres never trailed by more than five, and were only down 24-27 after 10 minutes.
Tucker was the dominant player in the first, making the game look extremely easy and setting the tone for the night.
The Eagles won the second 24-20, before hitting top gear in a one-sided third period.
A 10-2 run in the opening 100 seconds built a 61-46 lead, on the back of some top work from Deng, who had 4 points, 3 rebounds and an assist.
The Sabres were on top over the next five minutes, with good teamwork capped off by aggressive play from Daly reducing the gap to eight.
However, the Eagles closed the quarter with 11 points to a solitary free throw, extending their lead to 80-62 by the final interval.
Tucker began the fourth quarter on the bench with 9 assists, but despite returning for almost four minutes of action (until fouling out), he could not register a triple-double.
The Eagles emptied the bench late in the game, while Ng showed his true potential by swishing a fadeaway trey from the right corner that never looked like missing.
By James Woite