Sheffield Sharks north-east hoodoo struck again on Friday night with a tenth consecutive defeat at Newcastle Eagles.
Sharks and Eagles are two of the teams tipped to fight it out for the BBL Championship this season but the 95-82 loss on Tyneside is already Sheffield’s second defeat of the season, both away from home.
Newcastle traditionally start strong and Friday was no exception as they surged out to a 19-8 lead behind 10 points from the impressive Darius Defoe.
A Sharks timeout only briefly stemmed the flow of points as Eagles ended the first quarter 30-15 on top.
Defoe had scored all seven of his shots as Sheffield struggled to deal with him close to the basket.
Sharks were much better in the second quarter with a 37-23 deficit being whittled down to 37-34 as Allen Payne and Nick Lewis began to find their form.
There was a worrying moment for Sheffield as BJ Holmes was shook up after running into a hard-screen by Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy but the American point guard returned for Sheffield.
However, the Eagles pulled away again and by half time had stretched their lead back to 47-39.
Eagles moved out to 52-43 early in the third quarter but Sharks enjoyed their best period as they slowly reduced the gap and took the lead at 57-56 thanks to three point shots from Holmes and Patrick Horstmann.
Newcastle had the last word of the quarter with a three by Stuart Thomson making it 70-67 to the hosts.
Any hopes of a Sharks victory were extinguished in the last five minutes as Eagles blew the game open. Leading 80-75 with 4.21 remaining the reigning champions went on a 14-5 run up to the final buzzer to give them an early season boost over Sheffield.
Holmes and Payne led the Sharks offence with 19 points.