Poor third-quarter performances have proved to be Cheshire Phoenix 's Achilles Heel so far this season, and so that proved to be the case once more as they fell to a 91-76 defeat at home to high-flying Leicester Riders on Sunday.
Having been level at the end of the first and second quarters and proving more than a match for a Leicester side buoyed by their recent league triumph over Newcastle Eagles, the Nix failed to match their opponents in the third and allowing Rob Paternostro's men to push themselves out to a 10-point advantage heading into the final stanza.
And that was to prove too much of a tall order for head coach John Lavery's side as Leicester out-rebounded Cheshire at both the offensive and defensive end and dominate in the paint, stretching their lead to as many as 19 in the final period before the Nix made a fist of it towards the end.
While even the most optimistic of Nix fan would have thought a triumph over the Riders, who have lost just once this season, would have been difficult in the best of circumstances, Cheshire showed their capabilities in the first half and overturned an eight-point deficit with a splendid 11-0 run, sparked by the excellent Akeem Ellis, to take a brief lead before the break.
But Leicester's power inside told after the break and Cheshire failed to rebound well enough to deny the Riders' potent weapons with Trevor Gruis, Drew Sullivan and TrayVonn Wright proving too hot to handle.
Wright, Neil Watson and Tyler Bernardini all hit 19 for the visitors while Sullivan and Gruis chipped in with 13 apiece. For Cheshire, Ellis' 29 points paced all scorers while Kinu Rochford, presented with his BBL Player of the Month Award for January prior to tip-off, put up a stat line of 18 points and seven boards.
Veteran Nix forward David Aliu hit 12 points, going two of three from deep, to see him pass the 3,000 point mark in his BBL Championship career.
Cheshire remain in the play-off places in seventh but, with Leeds Force and Plymouth Raiders both picking up wins at the weekend and gaining ground, the Nix face a huge home game with Glasgow Rocks, another team in and around Lavery's men in the league, on Sunday (5.30pm).
"It's about putting a performance together for 40 minutes, and I don't think we did that tonight," said Lavery.
"To a certain extent it was tight in the first half. We said that we needed to come out with some energy, but we came out flat and they just jumped on us, pushed their lead forward and came out with the win. All credit to them guys (Leicester), they're a fantastic team. But we have to look at ourselves and what we didn't do well.
"We lost the boards. It was a multiple of players that hurt us on the glass. We only had 10 turnovers in the game, which is OK, but bad shot selection hurt us. If it doesn't go in it's just like a turnover. We have got to be a lot smarter offensively.
"All five guys have got to be around the basketball. We can't rely on one or two guys, everybody has to contribute and get the job done."