A combination of a slow start, poor shooting and some dubious refereeing combined to hand Hemel Storm an 85-78 defeat at Reading Rockets on Saturday night.
The game started slowly for the away team as they took almost four minutes to get on the scoreboard, by which time Reading had already notched nine points.
It got worse for Storm as they went on to trail by 16 points before some excellent defence held the home side to just two points in the last four minutes of the first quarter.
Hemel started the second quarter brightly, but a sequence of bizarre refereeing decisions enabled the Rockets to stretch their lead to 18 points at 46-28 with two minutes left in the half.
Whatever was said at half-time by stand-in head coach Jon Burnell had the desired effect, however, and Storm came out of the traps flying for the third quarter.
With the help of two three-pointers by Dru Spinks, Hemel scored the first 11 points to drag the home team’s lead back to just four.
Reading responded but Hemel point guard Bode Adeluola scored a very rare four-point play in the last minute to bring the score back to 64-57.
That was about as good as it got for a hard-working Hemel side as, despite getting the deficit back to four points again, they just couldn’t stop Reading scoring for long enough.
Storm did grab the last six points of the contest to make the final score a respectable one at the home of the reigning league champions.