Bury St. Edmunds Bulldogs travelled to Brightlingsea to square-off against the reigning league champions without guards Matt Spurling, Seb Benford & Jimmy Steedman, and big man Adam Maddison - but welcomed back Brandon Marshall for his first appearance of the season.
Bulldogs started the first quarter on a tear, as they connected from range five times in the quarter, and dominated the pace of the game, building a 19-31 lead. The hosts changed the pace of the game in the second quarter, tying the game at 53-53 at the half.
A nightmare third quarter saw Bulldogs held to just seven points, while the side's primary ball-handler Ashley MacDonald sat with foul trouble, and Brightlingsea pulled ahead 74-60.
Bulldogs rallied to open the final quarter, going on a 15-6 run over the opening six minutes of the quarter to bring the game back to 80-77, but had a horrific spell to follow, as Jason Sykes was called for his fifth and final foul to eliminate him from the game - despite believing that he was some way away from the play in question. It only got worse for the Suffolk side, as they allowed Brightlingsea three consecutive trips to the foul line, grabbing offensive rebounds each time to extend possessions and hold Bury scoreless for three minutes, as they eased home 89-81.
Jason Sykes (23), Ashley MacDonald (17) and Billy Smith (16) led the scoring for Bulldogs.
"This is always a tough place to play" said Coach Arron MacDonald, "today was no different. The best players and teams score a lot more easy baskets than they concede, and Brightlingsea did that consistently through the middle two quarters, which they won 55-29, and you can't give a team like Brightlingsea a twenty minute spell like that and expect to come away with a win."
"We were superb in the first quarter, but the next three quarters looked a lot more like I imagine their training sessions looked than ours, and while we're progressing as a team, it's clear we're not all the way there yet - I believe in this group, and I fully expect us to bounce back with an improved performance against MERU this weekend."
Next up for Bulldogs is another of the sides who managed victories against them last season, as they welcome MERU to Skyliner on Sunday 11th November at 6pm.