The Sharks received a big blow to their league title hopes with a double-overtime defeat at Leicester Riders on Saturday night.
Sheffield eventually went down 75-69 after the teams were locked at 60-60 at the end of regulation and then 66-66 after the first extra period.
However, the Sharks could take some solace from their performance as they matched the reigning champions throughout and could consider themselves unlucky not to win for the first time in the East Midlands since 2009.
And it was a far cry from their showing in October, which saw them score just 40 points on their way to a heavy defeat at the same venue.
While the outcome was the same Sheffield are a far tougher team than they were earlier in the campaign, although the defeat hands the season series to the Riders and puts Sharks two down in the loss column.
If Sheffield are to win their first title since 2003 then they’ll need some of their rivals to take points off the Riders along the way.
As expected the game was a tense affair at the John Sandford Centre. Riders had the first lead of significance at 12-8 after a 6-0 run but Sharks responded with a BJ Holmes three to end the period on a 7-2 burst as they led 15-14.
Sharks carried on their tear in the early part of the second quarter to lead 21-16 on a Jeremie Simmons two but Riders put together an 8-0 run to go 24-21 up.
The lead changed hands several times before half time with Riders going into the locker rooms at the interval 35-33 in front thanks to Jamell Anderson’s three.
Sheffield had the better of the third period and looked to be heading into the fourth quarter with a four point lead before Harrison Gamble drained a three at the buzzer to make it 45-44.
Neither team led by more than three points in the final period and a two point advantage for both sides was the largest lead in the first overtime.
Eventually the Riders proved slightly stronger to clamp down on the Sharks at the vital moment.
Rashad Hassan led all-scorers with 22 points for Leicester. Sharks skipper Mike Tuck was his team’s leading scorer with 17.
* Sharks scorers: Tuck 17, Holmes 15, Simmons 14, Horstmann 7, Lewis 5, Jemison 5, Babalola 4, Sing 2.
* Sheffield Hatters failed in their bid to win the inaugural Betty Codona Classic after being knocked out in the semi-finals on Saturday by eventual winners Nottingham Wildcats. The Hatters beat Manchester in the first round on Friday 88-49 but lost to the Wildcats 78-72.