Sheffield Sharks had their free throw shooting to thank as they escaped from Birmingham Knights first ever home match in the BBL with a tight victory.
Brent Benson scored 45 points for the hosts but even his brilliance wasn’t enough as Sharks closed with a 15-7 run over the last two minutes to move level on points with Worcester Wolves at the top of the table.
The burst included 10 free throws as Atiba Lyons’ team held their nerve to leave the Knights winless after three games.
Birmingham took a 26-20 lead into the second period but Sharks came out firing in the second quarter and levelled at 30-30 on Patrick Horstmann’s two. The lead switched hands several times before half time. Sheffield looked as though they’d edged the first 20 minutes on Mike Tuck’s two but Brent Benson’s three gave him 19 points for the half and tied the match at 43-43.
There was hardly anything between the teams in the third quarter with three points being the largest lead until the final two minutes.
However there was drama in the closing moments as Sharks went on a 9-3 run from 62-62 before Sheffield’s Nick Lewis and Knights Martyn Gayle were ejected from the game.
Knights pulled one back from the free throw line to trail 72-67 with 10 minutes to play. Knights re-took the lead at 86-85 on a two from Emile Hopkins and led for the final time at 91-89 on Benson’s three.
But once Horstmann had hit a three with 1:27 left in the match the Sharks saw the match out.