Bury St. Edmunds Basketball Club, sponsored by Kuda Automotive and Moreton Hall Community Centre, made the short trip across town for the tie with County Upper Wolves.
The Bulldogs, without leading scorer Adam Ball or starting guard Vytautas Girdzius, were pleased to welcome Damien Kidd for his debut to bolster a depleted side.
Bulldogs made the most of their size advantage early, with Brandon Marshall leading the charge with a pair of three-point plays in the opening frame before Denby Ablard, Ashley MacDonald and Tom Guerrero got on the scoresheet, however, the duo of Saunders and Moncrieffe managed to edge County ahead 21-14. The second quarter belonged to the hosts, as only Ablard, Guerrero and MacDonald got on the scoresheet, and County extended their lead to 41-24.
A change of tactic saw the Bulldogs contest the third quarter much more closely despite a fast start which saw County extend their lead to 24 points, as Captain Billy Smith led the charge with eight points in the quarter to bring some momentum towards a comeback for the Bulldogs.
The final quarter saw both sides lose key players to injury, as first County Upper big Jed Robinson left with an ankle injury after a slip on the floor, and then MacDonald checked out, later to find out that a broken hand meant this was likely his last action for the season.
MacDonald's injury saw Deividas Gorodeckis re-deployed on the wing, and the Lithuanian forward sparked the Bulldogs into life, as his energy anchored the defence and got a number of extra possessions on offence. Having brought the game back to 64-59 with 35 seconds left, a three from former Bulldog Phil Ennis-Bugg effectively sealed the game for County, who closed the game out at the line with the Bulldogs fouling to stop the clock.
Leading scorers for Bury were Smith (12), Ablard (12) and Marshall (8).
"Coming into this game, missing a couple of starters, we knew it would be a challenge" said Coach Arron MacDonald. "Whilst we're naturally disappointed to have dropped the game, there's a lot to feel positive about here. We were the better side in the second half, and frankly, it feels a lot more that we 'ran out of time' than we lost the game."
"It's disappointing to lose Ashley to an injury, particularly after losing Billy for a couple of games to a stray elbow last time we faced County Upper. Ashley has been a key player for us this season, and while I know he's disappointed, I know he'll be setting a great example of being a team-mate and a leader from the bench alongside his team-mates."
Everyone at Bury St. Edmunds Basketball Club would like to wish Jed Robinson all the best with his recovery from the injury he sustained during the fixture.
Up next for Bulldogs is the visit of Essex Rebels II on Saturday 15th February at Skyliner Sports Centre. 3pm tip-off, free entry.