WORCESTER Wolves went down fighting in an 81-75 defeat to league leaders Newcastle Eagles on Friday.
The loss on Tyneside leaves Worcester sitting in third place in the British Basketball League, 14 points below Newcastle and four points adrift of Leicester Riders, who have six games in hand over Wolves.
The visitors fell into an early hole in the first period, finding themselves 23-16 behind entering the second quarter.
Ben Eaves and Orlan Jackman finally got on the scoresheet as Worcester clawed their way back into the game and brought matters back to 25-24, which prompted a Newcastle timeout.
A rapid three baskets in a minute for Pavol Losonsky opened a 37-32 lead for Wolves, who looked to have tuned the match on its head when Javier Mugica further widened the advantage with a triple.
However, Eagles displayed why they are top of the BBL as their guard Joe Chapman closed the gap at the interval.
Back and forth scoring after the break tied the match at 51-51, but a barren end to the third period saw Wolves once more in arrears.
Newcastle still held sway at 73-63 with just four minutes remaining following another Chapman three-pointer.
Jackman replied and was on hand to set up team-mate Ashton Khan as Wolves tried one last assault.
Mugica reduced the deficit to just four points at 77-73 with a long range success in the final minute to set up a tense finale, but time caught up with Wolves as the hosts saw out the match with a couple of scores.
Perris Blackwell muscled his way to 27 points to lead all scorers and was supported by Losonsky and Mugica on 16 and 11 points respectively.
Head coach Paul James said: “We gave Newcastle a fight and we battled well. We took more shots than them and out-rebounded them, but unfortunately we had one or two lapses at key stages which led to them outscoring us.
“They hit their shots at the right times and we didn’t, but again I want to highlight our workrate. We pulled down 16 offensive rebounds and that doesn’t happen unless everyone is working hard.”
Wolves return to the University of Worcester Arena this Friday when they take on Plymouth Raiders at 7.30pm.