BRADFORD Dragons eased their relegation fears with a first win of 2019 in National League Division One as they defeated Team Newcastle University 84-73.

The visitors got off to a flying start, Allie Fullah winning the jump ball and setting Jermayne Laing for the first attempt of the game. Laing’s shot bounced back off the rim, but Fullah was there to take the rebound and follow up with a dunk to put the Dragons ahead.

Latvian, Rihards Šulcs doubled the lead just seconds later, before Newcastle put up their first points of the game – a three from Benedict Seipt.

The two sides traded baskets throughout most of the opening session, with Bradford doing just enough to keep their noses ahead. With three-and-a-half minutes of the period to play, the Dragons’ lead was just two points, but then scores from Ricky Fetske and Andreas Lycoudis increased the gap to six.

Seipt again scored for Newcastle, before a triple run of threes by Bradford (Fetske and Lycoudis) closed the period out with the Dragons firmly in control.

Šulcs extended the lead to 15, early in the second period, but then Tosan Evbuomwan hit a three and Onyekachi Nzerem a two, to pull the hosts back within 10. From there, the play levelled out and when the buzzer sounded for half-time at 45-35.

Šulcs drew a foul in the first play after the interval and he made no mistake with the resulting shots from the line. Fetske dunked to extend the away advantage to 14, before a three from Nzerem and a couple of singles from Seipt brought it back to a single figure game.

Bradford pulled away again, and halfway through the third quarter they looked strong with a 17-point lead. However, a succession of missed opportunities allowed the hosts back in. As the penultimate period closed, the gap was down to just five points and it looked set for a tense final quarter.

Once more, it was Bradford that added the first points of the final session and with just over two minutes of the period played they looked comfortable with a 10-point advantage. But Newcastle were not yet finished and three minutes later they had pulled back to just a three-point ball game and it looked as though the Dragons were facing a nervous final five minutes.

Fullah was sent to the line following a foul by Newcastle’s Fran Urli, and he made no mistakes, putting the Dragons five up.

The hosts pulled back to three, but with just three minutes remaining, Urli was called for a technical foul, sending Rafi Saipe to the line for a single and, with Bradford maintaining possession, Fullah followed up to put Bradford six ahead (70-76).

The hosts dug in, but Bradford matched them basket for basket and with just a minute left on the clock, Laing bucketed a two to put Bradford seven clear.

With Newcastle now needing possession, they were forced into giving away fouls, in the vain hope that their guests would miss from the line. However, when the final buzzer sounded the Dragons’ lead had been stretched to 11 and it was they that celebrated their first win since beating Team Solent Kestrels, in December.

Šulcs was again the top scorer for Bradford, with 24 points, just missing out on a double-double with 9 rebounds. Fetske, did manage the double, with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Saipe and Lycoudis both registered double figures with 14 and 11 points respectively.

The win moves the Dragons four points clear of the relegation spots with just six fixtures remaining.

Two of those fixtures take place this coming weekend, with Bradford entertaining Thames Valley Cavaliers on Saturday evening.

With the Dragons’ home court at Bradford College being unavailable, this fixture has been moved to the Unique Fitness and Lifestyle Centre on Great Horton Road, with a 6pm tip-off.

Spectator accommodation is restricted, and therefore the club are recommending that tickets are purchased in advance, via the club website, in order to ensure access to the game.