IT’S a long way back from Plymouth after a defeat.
But it’s not nearly as far as the deficit Sheffield Sharks created for themselves after the first quarter in Devon last night.
Needing a quick start to silence the noisy Raiders crowd, the Sharks struggled defensively to allow their hosts to race into a 25-11 lead.
Sheffield won the remaining three quarters, but the damage was already done and it leaves Atiba Lyons’s team with a real fight on their hands to make the play-offs.
Lyons, who once again was absent as the Sharks try to resolve their differences with the BBL over financial matters, said: “We came out with energy but we were poor defensively and missed some ‘chippies’ at the other end.
“Once we’d sorted those things out we played much better. Offensively we started executing plays.”
Raiders had knocked Sharks out of the BBL Cup earlier in the season when former Sheffield player Paul Williams scored a buzzer-beater.
This was the first BBL Championship meeting of the campaign and Williams was again to the fore scoring 25 points and pulling down 18 rebounds.
The Raiders broke the game open late in the first quarter, Jeremy Bell bagging four points in a 10-3 finish to the quarter to lead 25-11.
However Sharks guard Jimmy Langhurst scored 17 of his game high 31 points to keep his team in touch at 42-32 at half time.
And then a 9-0 run for Sheffield moved them to 53-50.
Raiders ended the quarter eight in front only for Sharks to fight back once again to close to 68-64 inside the final period. Raiders responded with Williams netting four points in a decisive 7-0 run for the hosts that left Sharks too much to do at 75-64 in arrears.
SHARKS: Langhurst 31, Tuck 20, Dobbins 13, Babalola 9, Sing 3, Gachette 2.