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BASKETBALL: Bitter taste of defeat.

IT was a night of bitter disappointment for Crusader fans as an intense game full of action and excitement saw the home side miss out 82-73 against visiting Oxford Devils.

A combination of too many missed lay-ups and some strange decisions from the officials came back to haunt them in the closing stages.

Coach Dip Donaldson said: "I am very disappointed with the loss which does seem harder when you can taste victory.

"We are still paying the price for lack of game experience, but I continue to be pleased that the team is still making progress."

Crusader's got off to a good start and only trailed 14-18 at the end of the first quarter.

But after a couple of missed three pointers from Crusaders at the start of the second quarter, the visitors were soon 22-14 up.

Oxford then upped their defence forcing Crusaders to turn the ball over and allowing them to increase the gap.

Donaldson brought himself into the game for the first time but despite his energetic efforts and a much-needed two from Derrick Pope on the buzzer, Crusaders ended the first half 42-34 down. In the third quarter the Crusaders' inability to convert their lay ups saw their chances of a comeback wasted as they slipped to 50-64 behind.

A 7-0 run for the Crusaders at the start of the final quarter got the crowd going but two quick fouls from Donaldson saw the advantage swing further in the Devils' favour.

Both shots were missed but the officials called Crusaders for encroachment and the second free throw was allowed to be retaken, this time finding its target and re establishing a 10 point lead for the visitors.

Going into the final four minutes 61-75, down Crusaders still thought victory was still possible.

However, the Devils slowed down the play and despite outscoring their visitors in the closing minutes the buzzer sounded and Crusaders were left thinking of what might have been.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 3, 2003
Words:326
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