Sharks will take a three-point lead into their BBL Cup semi-final second leg against Newcastle Eagles, but it could have been more.
A victory for Sheffield against the Eagles is always a positive sign as the north-east club have set the standards in British basketball for more than a decade.
However, after twice holding a ten point advantage at the EIS in the first leg on Friday night the Sharks were disappointed not to take a larger lead into the return on December 13.
German forward Patrick Horstmann, who scored 18 points, said: “I think we can do better, we should have won by more than three points.
“We gave them too many threes and offensive rebounds, so we have to improve. But a win is good.”
A typically fast start by Newcastle saw the visitors race out to a 10-2 lead but Sharks responded with a 13-2 burst of their own with five different players sharing the scoring. Nothing could separate the teams until Sharks skipper Mike Tuck hit a shot on the first quarter buzzer to put his team 22-20 in front.
Sheffield, through the excellent Jeremie Simmons, dominated the opening exchanges of the second period and took a double-digit lead at 37-27.
The Eagles are wily competitors, though, and finished the half with a 10-2 run to eat into Sheffield’s advantage and trail by just two (39-37) at the interval. After Eagles pulled within one at 52-51, Sharks finished the third quarter on a 9-2 burst to lead 61-53 with just the final period to play.
Sharks, who had Demetrius Jemison in the line up after he moved back to the club this week went 76-66 up through Simmons but Newcastle’s Malik Cooke scored nine of his team’s points in a 13-6 close to the game by the Eagles.
Simmons said: “This is a great test for us, you have to come out ready to play against them.
“Our fans were great and it’s a good win.”
Sharks travel to Surrey United in the league tomorrow.
* Scorers: Simmons 18, Horstmann 18, Lewis 10, Holmes 9, Tuck 8, Jemison 8, Babalola 6, Sing 3, Gachette 2.