Leeds Force fell agonisingly short of a memorable second victory of the campaign on Sunday night, suffering a heart-breaking 83-91 defeat against playoff-chasing Bristol Flyers at Carnegie Sports Arena.
The resilient Force leapt into a quick four-point lead behind the fiery shooting of in-form Adrian Kuyinu, who looked to build on an electrifying effort in Leeds’ Friday night loss down in Surrey.
Force continued their surprisingly aggressive attack of the Bristol basket in the opening 10 minutes, forcing Flyers into committing a series of early fouls as both sides duelled toe to toe in a frantic first segment.
A relentless wave of offensive pressure eventually told as Bristol began to crumble, with Eric Curth’s buzzer-beating triple capping a memorable first quarter for Force.
Desperate to avoid defeat against the basement-battlers, Bristol clung on to Leeds’ coat-tails, rallying behind bursts from Rohndell Goodwin and Brandon Boggs as the Flyers gradually chipped Force’s advantage down to two in a tension-filled encounter.
Repeating Curth’s first-quarter heroics, Force skipper Isaac Mourier’s pivotal triple at the buzzer saw Leeds muscle into a five-point advantage to bring an end to a marvellous first-half performance.
Bristol burst out of the gate in the third quarter to seize their first lead of the contest, registering eight points unanswered as all of Leeds’ hard work threatened to unravel.
A spectacular triple as the shot-clock expired from Greek import Rafail Tsourakis inched Leeds ahead once more, as each side exchanged blow after blow in a physical and brutal back-and-forth battle.
Force’s foul trouble eventually began to pay dividends – seeing crucial players exit the game, leading to a late flurry of points as Bristol bridged a five-point gap with the clock ticking towards the final quarter.
With the game on a knife edge, Bristol’s veteran figures emerged and seemingly clinched the game for Flyers, nailing a sea of back-breaking triples to earn a lofty 10-point lead with five minutes remaining.
Nix’s mesmerising last-gasp effort in search of a late comeback fell cruelly short, as the spirited Force suffered a heart-breaking late defeat.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the BBL, Plymouth Raiders suffered more misery at the Pavilions as they were beaten on their home floor by Cheshire, just 48 hours after being eased out of their BBL Trophy quarter-final by Leicester Riders.
A poor start to the last quarter proved pivotal for Raiders as they allowed Phoenix to take the initiative. That is now six straight league defeats for Plymouth, while Cheshire move to an improved and impressive 7-4 league record.