Deadeye David Cohn experienced the best and worst of professional basketball after battling Newcastle Eagles narrowly missed out on famous back-to-back wins against Leicester Riders.
Crestfallen Cohn cut a dejected figure as he headed to the locker room after picking up a second unsportsmanlike foul of the game five minutes from time.
But had it not been for the bustling playmaker’s magical third quarter masterclass, Leicester Riders would likely have been out of sight.
Cohn hit 13 of his Newcastle-high 23 points in the penultimate period as the Eagles roared back into contention.
And less than 48 hours after inflicting a humbling seven-point loss on Rob Paternostro’s men it looked like the men in black might pinch another big win.
But Cohn’s untimely ejection clearly knocked the stuffing out of Marc Steutel’s men as Leicester closed out the win down the stretch.
And Newcastle failed to capitalise on Plymouth City Patriots’ heavy loss at the hands of London Lions with time running out to seal a playoff spot.
“Newcastle is a well-coached team and a physical team,” said a relieved Darien Nelson-Henry after the Riders’ centre paced his team to a hard-fought victory.
“The Eagles have some dynamic guys who can cause real problems and the way that Javion Hamlet eludes the defence is great for them.
“He’s got a solid cast around him and that was another tough game after Friday.
“But we had a bit of time to stew on that loss in Newcastle and it just didn’t sit well with me.
“I had a little chip on my shoulder heading into the game.”
The highlight of an evenly matched opening five minutes was Darius Defoe’s 569th BBL appearance as the veteran forward moved level with Yorick Williams in second place.
The league’s most decorated player came off the bench with his team trailing 12-10 and immediately took a trademark charge from the fired-up Aaron Menzies.
And now only one man stands between Defoe and the overall BBL appearance record — mentor, friend and former Eagles playcaller Fab Flournoy.
Elsewhere Justin Gordon looked like a player on a mission as he made early inroads into the Riders’ defence.
The all-action American loves Leicester’s Morningside Arena having bagged the 2021 BBL Cup MVP award at the East Midlands venue.
And Gordon raced to six early points before the hosts finished the first period the stronger to establish a 24-18 lead.
That advantage was extended to 10 points twice during the second quarter as the Riders sought to assert full control.
But Leicester clearly didn’t count on the previously quiet Cohn suddenly bursting into life as the US star hit the last seven points of the half.
Newcastle’s stealthy point guard put the cat amongst the pigeons with a fabulous four-point play inside the final minute of the second quarter.
And seconds later Cohn followed up with another arcing triple to reduce the deficit to just three points with 20 minutes on the clock.
If the Riders had been warned, then that warning went unheeded — Cohn continued to pour in bucket after bucket from way downtown as the Eagles clawed their way back into another BBL classic.
Leicester led 63-62 heading into the final quarter and man of the moment Jermel Kennedy fired the visitors in front with a powerful finish seconds after the restart.
Newcastle were trailing by five when Cohn reached in to halt a Riders fast break and immediately realised the gravity of his error.
Without their talismanic on-court leader, Steutel’s men simply couldn’t find a way back and it doesn’t get any easier for the unlucky Tynesiders with champions-elect London due at the Vertu Motors Arena on Friday.
Limited tickets for this Fridays clash with London are available via the box office.