West Brom Basketball Club had a slow start to blame as they fell to a 100-81 defeat at home to Birmingham Mets.
The Black Country side welcomed the title-challengers having seen a number of players forced to miss the game through injury – and the short-handed host’s stall in the opening period ultimately cost them the encounter.
West Brom saw starting point guard Sam Rudge miss the encounter, and his absence was felt early as Birmingham started strongly, dominating the paint to build a 13-point lead just six minutes into the game.
The hosts struggled to find their range, managing just four made field goals through the period, with things looking ominous as the first buzzer sounded.
However, there was to be no further collapse from Tim Rudge’s side, who came out firing in the second quarter in an attempt to chip away at Birmingham’s 22-point lead.
Leaning on reigning Co-MVP Luke Hatfield, who managed a game-high 28 points, and Liam Sheridan, who scored a season’s best 20, West Brom began to trouble their opponents.
Notching 28 points through the second period, West Brom were still facing a sizeable deficit – but had done some groundwork as they hoped to pull off a memorable comeback.
Those hopes were put to bed by the end of the third period though, as they struggled to beat the Mets’ defence in a low-scoring quarter – leaving them the task of running down a 22-point lead in the final stanza.
Despite forcing the visitors into foul trouble, the closest West Brom could come to their opponents was within 17, with the first-quarter damage telling.
That defeat leaves West Brom bottom of the table, with nine points from seven games.
Hatfield admitted that West Brom need to step up their performances if they’re to gain more victories this season.
“This was a tough one for the guys to take.” he said.
“Yes, we were short-handed, but we need to make a better account of ourselves in these situations.
“We can’t go handing teams like Mets, who are a very good side, 20-point leads in the first quarter – that’s not how you win games of basketball.
“I think if we had our full roster available, we’d have given them a really good game today and maybe even got the win. But in fairness, Met’s didn’t have a packed out squad either.
“It’s a really tough league this year, the quality has definitely made a jump. In all honesty, I’d like to see us bring in a few more players to really challenge at this level, because at this moment in time we’re a bit behind in terms of depth – and it showed today.
“But if we can’t get guys in, we’ll keep on fighting and doing our best. We’re a competitive side in this league, we’re not getting blown-out by 30 or 40 a game – but right now I think we just need that little bit extra to get over the line.”