Sheffield Sharks captain Mike Tuck said losing to Yorkshire rivals Leeds Force on Friday night at the EIS was tough to take.
The defeat was Sheffield’s first in five matches and ended a winning run that had boosted their hopes of a top four finish in the league.
But Sharks couldn’t shake off a gritty leads team, who had added the influential Sam Attah to their squad on the morning of the match.
Attah ended the game with a team high 21 points and proved a difficult opponent all evening.
Tuck said: “It’s a tough loss. Hats off to Leeds, they scouted us well and did their homework.
“They (Leeds) came in with a tough mentality and did well.
“They were collapsing on us and they’ve two new players since we last saw them – so that gave them a bit of height and length on the defensive end.
“They were doing all the right things on defence.”
Sharks, who are still without injured point guard BJ Holmes, had led for the majority of the match only to fall behind 58-57 on a James McCann free throw.
Tuck replied with a three-point shot that seemed to have finally broken Force’s resistance only for McCann to calmly score a three of his own after Sharks committed a crucial turnover in the final 20 seconds of the game.
Armand Anebo added a further free throw for the visitors which left Patrick Horstmann’s missed two point shot on the buzzer as Sharks final chance to salvage overtime.
Tuck said it is difficult to take when victory is within his team’s grasp: “Especially to lose when we were so close to victory. We had a couple of chances at the end but made mistakes.
“But we can’t blame just the end, it was over the whole game.
“We never put them away. It’s onto the next one and we have to put this one behind us.”
Sixth-placed Sharks next match is on Friday at the EIS against the fourth-place Cheshire Phoenix.
It will be the teams’ first meeting in the league although Sharks triumphed 91-84 in the BBL Cup last October.