Shepparton Gators’ undefeated run to begin the Big V division one season has come to an end.
The Gators hosted Keysborough Cougars in their biggest test of the season so far, with four points the losing margin in a game the home side could have won.
But having defeated some lesser sides, Shepparton struggled under the pressure Keysborough produced.
Conceding 23 turnovers, Gators coach Leigh Bathman said self-inflicted errors cost his side.
‘‘Every time we did two or three good things, we would find a way to do three or four silly things,’’ he said.
‘‘But the main question for the night was answered, we wanted to know if we could test ourselves against another good quality opponent and the main question was answered that we could.’’
American import Cameron Vines again topped the scoring for the Gators with 25 points, but Shepparton was lacking another high-scoring player to make a large contribution.
Guard Matt Bartlett was next closest with 13 points, while Spencer Coleman chimed in with 12.
Bathman said the players needed to pile on scoreboard pressure earlier in the game, with poor percentage from the free throw line conceding valuable points.
‘‘He (Vines) hit three three-pointers late in the game to give us a better chance, but he needs to make a better impact in the scoring column much earlier in the game,’’ he said.
As expected, the Cougars’ American import Gerrard Newby was a handful.
Averaging almost 16 points in the lead-up to the match, Newby more than doubled that to torch the Gators with 35 points, while also defending brilliantly with 10 defensive rebounds.
‘‘In the second quarter he (Newby) hit a few threes in a row and that fuelled him for the rest of the game and he began to take the ball to the basket really well,’’ Bathman said.
‘‘He’s quite a skilled player that we might look at different match-ups for next time.
‘‘Without Jake Cowling that impacted what we could do defensively, we were down a big and he’s a player that can have an impact at both ends.’’
Cowling fouled out in the third quarter and Bathman hoped his team could better cope with the physicality that top sides in the competition will show during the season.
In the 75-79 losing scoreline the lead changed for much of the match, with Bathman confident the Gators could beat the Cougars next time.
‘‘Absolutely, we’ll get that opportunity at their place later in the season,’’ he said.
‘‘When the pressure goes on and teams become more intense and physical, we have to handle it better and not lose our composure.’’