Shepparton Gators moved to within five points of upsetting Keilor Thunder in Melbourne, but a slow start disadvantaged the visitors.
The Gators had a lot to make up for after a lethargic opening five minutes of the match against the top team in the Big V competition, 18 points behind after that period.
‘‘Everybody started slowly, it was like we pulled up on the bus, but everyone forgot to get off,’’ Shepparton coach Leigh Bathman said.
‘‘The first five minutes we were very ordinary, we were down 20-2 after the first five minutes and didn’t come with any intensity or urgency.’’
But a light switched on in the players’ minds as they turned the game into more of a contest, with Kyle Howe-Tipene converting a three-pointer to kick-start the South Australian’s impact on the game.
He netted 21 points for the match as import Justin Patton top-scored with 23 points and 17 rebounds.
The margin was still 14 points at quarter-time, before growing to 15 at the main break.
Keilor’s Jordan Coleman was difficult to contain as he scored 29 points, but he was the only Thunder player to make a major impact on the scoreboard.
Shepparton outscored its opposition by 10 points in the third quarter and drew within five early in the final term.
But going down by six points after only performing to its ability for a half, Bathman said his side needed to bring more intent.
A win on Saturday night could have propelled the Gators into fourth place and finals contention, but instead they sit sixth in their conference.
‘‘It’s a six-point loss to the top team in the competition, it’s frustrating to have another close loss, but our effort was commendable,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve just got to not have those lapses during whatever period of the game when we get scored heavily on.’’