SHEFFIELD Sharks were given a lesson in ruthlessness last night at the EIS as they suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of title favourites Newcastle Eagles.
Five wins to open the new season had given Atiba Lyons team plenty of confidence but they were blown off the court by the Eagles ability to hit crucial baskets and get key defensive stops.
It was classic Newcastle from the first tip-off. Player-coach Fab Flournoy sets his team up to be aggressive from the start and they quickly put the Sharks on the back foot.
A 7-0 run was a sign of things to come as Joe Chapman scored four three-pointers out of six Eagles triples in the first quarter.
Sheffield were only briefly in the match at 6-9 before back to back threes by Chapman began a 21-7 run up to the end of the period.
The punishment continued in the second quarter. Another three from Chapman, who had 18 points in the first half, began an 8-0 burst that took Newcastle to a 17-40 advantage.
A further seven-two run, capped by an Andrew Bridge three, gave the visitors their biggest lead of the half at 21-47.
Sharks had the last word in the period with six unanswered points to bring the score back to 27-47.
The disparity between the sides was shown in the turnovers. Newcastle gave the ball up just once; the Sharks on 14 occasions in the opening 20 minutes.
However, Sheffield got themselves back into the match with a sterling third quarter effort. Justin Dobbins began to get the ball in five and finished strong several times on his way to 12 points in the period.
Eagles kept their lead at double-digits through threes from Chapman and Andrew Thomson, but a Nate Reinking triple on the buzzer gave Sharks some hope at 50-62 heading into the final quarter.
Chapman and Thomson with threes kept Sharks at bay in the fourth quarter to make it 59-84 as any hope of a Sheffield fightback was easily snuffed out.
n SHARKS scorers: Dobbins 18, Reinking 16, Tuck 15, Langhurst 7, Sing 5, Babalola 4, Lyons 2.