WORTHING Thunder Basketball Club suffered a sixth successive league defeat when they lost 82-78 at home to Westminster Warriors on Saturday.
Thunder welcomed back American Rory Spencer into their side, after he had missed the previous five games while sorting out his visa application.
But a strong second-half showing took the visitors to victory as Worthing were unable to build on a strong first-half showing, which saw them lead 41-39 at half-time.
Thunder coach Daniel Hildreth said: “It was a closely fought game throughout.
“We had two open lay-ups that rimmed out while being down by two points in the last minute. We were competitive but no doubt we’ll be working on our defence this week at practice.”
Tom Ward led Thunder with 20 points, Bud Johnston added 15 with the returning Spencer securing a double-double of 11 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.
Spencer got the game going with a bucket inside and as the quarter wore on, Worthing built up a solid 9-2 lead following a bucket from Dominic Baker. Ex-BBL guard Lakan Popoola led the Warriors comeback as the visitors narrowed the gap to 14-9 but Thunder held a 23-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A three-pointer from Johnston gave Thunder a 27-21 cushion to start the second quarter but Westminster came back as the lead changed hands midway through the period.
The last minutes of the half were scrappy as Thunder missed numerous free throws, while the Warriors were turning the ball over due to aggressive defence from the hosts. Spencer kept Thunder’s scoreline ticking and he led them to a 41-39 lead at the break.
Thunder started the third quarter intensely as a three-pointer from Johnston gave the hosts a 53-46 lead. Westminster, though, stepped up a gear and took advantage of missed free throws by edging into a 59-58 lead going into the final period.
The fourth quarter saw the lead change hands constantly as Thunder, led by Ward, began their charge. But Worthing were undone by failing to take their chances inside, which allowed Westminster to preserve their lead until the final buzzer.
Thunder’s Tomas Seduikis said: “I think that our opponents just played harder and that at moments we just went away from our plays, we got caught up in their fast pace transition basketball and started to rush.”
Thunder travel to Manchester Magic on Saturday and then head to Leeds Carnegie on Sunday.