The Shepparton Gators could not overcome a depleted line-up against the Western Port Steelers on Saturday night.
The Big V division one round 13 defeat was the Gators’ fourth loss of the season, but with games in hand they remain well in the hunt in fourth position.
Shepparton began the game with promise, wrestling back a seven-point deficit halfway through the first term to be six ahead at the main break.
But it was all Western Port from there on.
The home side went on a 18-2 run to start the third term, powering ahead of the Gators for the rest of the match to seal a 14-point win.
Absences hurt the Gators, with captain Nick Dodd, Tyrone Mohamed and Jordan Michel not able to take to the court, while coach Leigh Bathman missed the clash as well.
Assistant coach Cam Hardy grabbed a hold of the coaching book in the absence of Bathman, but the regular coach had analysed the match footage yesterday morning.
‘‘Looking at the tape, we had great player and ball movement in the first half, but that just fell away in the third term,’’ Bathman said.
‘‘We were very flat after half-time, the side looked like they lacked energy and effort.
‘‘And things just fell away way too quickly when they went on a run.
‘‘Player rotations would have impacted the team’s performance as well.
‘‘All in all, it was a disappointing result.’’
Carlin Dupree (22 points, nine rebounds and three assists) led the way again, while Gabe Evans (11 points and five rebounds) chipped in with solid contribution.
Bathman said the absence of Dodd played a role in the outcome of the match.
‘‘Certainly not having Doddy impacted us a bit,’’ he said.
‘‘He’s the glue to the side and without him, we lack a bit of team cohesion.
‘‘Our ball movement was superb in the first half, but we just lacked composure and leadership at times.’’
The Gators will contest another double-header this weekend, facing the Warrnambool Seahawks on Saturday night and La Trobe City Energy on Sunday.
The match against the Seahawks has extra meaning, with the rivals playing for the Bill McCarthy Memorial Shield.