A depleted Cheshire Phoenix put up a spirited performance against runaway BBL Championship leaders Newcastle Eagles before going down 98-91 on Sunday.
Cheshire were again missing long-term absentee David Aliu and had to do without Sedale Hanson-Young and veteran Olu Babalola meaning the starting five of Akeem Ellis, Jeff Dirkin, Jordan Williams, Danny Huffor and Kinu Rochford remained on the court for the entire 40 minutes.
The Eagles, who have now won 16 straight league games this season, were made to work hard at Cheshire Oaks Arena and were indebted to the evergreen Charles Smith, who posted 26 points, six assists and five rebounds from the bench.
The victory was Newcastle's third over the Nix in as many weeks, and made it a club-record 24 straight wins in all competitions.
After an even opening period - in which Cheshire had led by as many as five - Newcastle began to pull away in the second and a 10-2 run helped them into a nine-point lead at the break.
The gap reached 12 points on a Joe Chapman three midway through the third, but the Nix later battled back within two on the back of a 9-0 run.
Williams tied the game at 73, before Smith responded with a three of his own to spark an 8-0 Eagles burst.
Huffor had the chance to tie the game again for the Nix, but his three-point attempt misfired only for Martin to connect at the other end to make it a six-point game at 87-93, which effectively sealed the win.
The result means it is now six defeats in a row for Cheshire and sees them drop to a 6-10 mark but the performance was a significant improvement on recent weeks.
Rochford collected a double-double of 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Huffor and Williams had 23 and 21 points respectively.
Cheshire return to action after the Christmas break with a trip to Manchester Giants on January 3.