Two fixtures within 24 hours proved too much for a fatigued Newcastle Eagles WBBL as the black and whites went crashing out of the WBBL Trophy.
But a reflective Chris Bunten refused to use tired legs as an excuse as his side went down 81-57 to the all-conquering Sevenoaks Suns.
And Newcastle’s playcaller admitted the Eagles have work to do at both ends of the court as a transitional roster finds it feet.
“In no other professional sport would you be asked to play two competitive games so close to each other,” said Bunten, who saw his side destroy border rivals Caledonia Pride in Saturday’s WBBL Trophy opener.
“But I’m not using that as a defence. We weren’t the only team to face that kind of scheduling across the weekend and we knew it would be tough.
“What made it tougher were some questionable calls by the officials. And we didn’t make it easier on ourselves by missing too many open shots.
“You simply can’t afford to do that against a side of Sevenoaks’ height and quality.
“They scored almost half their points on the back of 13 three-pointers and we converted two of our 17 three-point attempts. That tells its own story.”
An entertaining first half saw the Eagles – buoyed by a brilliant 73-48 win against Pride – match the Suns play for play until a late burst from Len Busch’s side.
Newcastle led 23-18 midway through the second period thanks to nerveless shooting at the bonus stripe and another big contribution from Georgia Ohrdorf.
The all-action Aussie had 12 points and four rebounds at the half following a double double against Pride the previous day.
But Bunten’s frustrations with the officials were clear with both Lisa Koop and Anja Fuchs-Robetin on three fouls apiece heading into the break.
Sensing an advantage, the Suns turned the screw with former Team Northumbria pair Ta’Yani Clark and Cat Carr increasingly influential.
Sevenoaks led by 14 after three quarters and when Koop picked up her fifth foul with more than seven minutes on the clock it was game over for the Eagles.
“There were positives,” insisted Bunten. “We competed well in the first half and some of the younger players gained valuable minutes.
“We still need to add stuff in and because of the foul trouble people were playing out of position for long periods.
“We got some shots that we wanted but we just couldn’t make them. I honestly don’t believe the scoreline reflected how hard the players worked.”
Newcastle return to the Eagles Community Arena on Sunday when they host Cardiff Met Archers in the WBBL Championship with a 4pm tip-off.
Tickets are on sale now from just £6 per person from the box office and for this opening game only our BBL season ticket holders get in for half-price!