Sheffield Hatters home opener at All Saints ended in disappointment against Cardiff Archers.
But there were plenty of positive signs for coach Vanessa Ellis with Steph Gandy and Kisha Lee both making their season debuts.
Hatters and Archers had both won their last match and are likely to battle it out all season for silverware. However, the Archers proved to be just stronger in this encounter as the visitors came through with a 77-74 victory.
A tight first half ended with the Hatters down by one point at 31-30. And after the interval both teams had the chance to win the match.
With 43 seconds left the Hatters were down by seven points though, and it appeared that the game had been decided. A timeout called by Ellis inspired the Hatters to cut the score to one again at 75-74 but Archers’ Great Britain star Stef Collins made an excellent contested shot to seal the win.
Lee top scored for Sheffield with 21 points, Gandy had 15 points, and Helen Naylor chipped in 11 points.
This was only the second match of the season for the Hatters, who have now won one and lost one.
It was their first game with a full-strength roster and with more time working together they should once again be one of the premier teams in the top flight.
The Hatters will visit the Sevenoaks Suns on Saturday.
Five of the Under 18 squad were drafted into action for City of Sheffield Saints at Northants Thunder when Saints had only three senior players and they gave a good account in the 92-87 defeat in Division Three.
David Frost hit the first two baskets for Saints who trailed at the end of the first period 26-25 but after Northants went on a 16-8 run in the second quarter, Saints managed to stay in touch, going into the break 49-44 down.
Northants led 75-65 but Saints rallied, and with Marcus Welsh reading Gayle’s long passes, Saints stemmed the tide and closed to just one point in the last four minutes, but with Saints’ top scorer Javan Hayles collecting his fifth foul, the home team held their nerve to win 92-87.
Saints are at home on Saturday to Derby Trailblazers II (4pm).
Sheffield Sabres lost 70-64 at Rossendale Raptors and will welcome Tees Valley Mohawks II to the EIS on Sunday.
The Arrows Senior men began their National League Division Two campaign with a 100-95 win over Derby at Killamarsh Sports Centre on Sunday and travel to Ipswich on Saturday.