THE Bradford Dragons suffered their seventh National Basketball League Division One defeat of the season, blowing a couple of big first half leads in their 78-75 reverse at the Reading Rockets.

The defeat is their first regular time loss in five league games. It was always going to be a tough ask though against the fifth-placed Rockets, who came into the game looking for answers on the back of a season-high 102-77 defeat against the Derby Trailblazers.

But the first quarter produced another electric start for the Dragons and it was all about the prolific Dave Walsh, who scored 13 of his side's points.

Bradford saw out the final two minutes of the quarter with a 9-5 run that pushed the lead up to as high as 27-17, with Walsh knocking down his third three of the game and Rihards Šulcs adding two layups.

The visitors’ led by seven at the buzzer, before a strong start to the second quarter saw their lead balloon to 14 points.

Bradford then went cold offensively, and with the free-scoring Walsh unable to stem the tide alone, the visitors were clinging on, heading into half-time just 46-45 ahead.

Partway through the third quarter, Reading went on a 13-2 run to storm 61-52 in front, but the Dragons' two longest-serving players, Šulcs and Fetske, combined for seven points, cutting the lead to just two by the end of the quarter.

Both teams went bucket for bucket in the fourth, with Bradford down 76-75 with a minute to play.

Two clutch free throws gave Reading a three point buffer and a last-gasp prayer of a three for Bradford as the game clock expired fell short, ensuring a narrow defeat.

Coach Chris Mellor said afterwards: “We did a lot right in the game, in terms of our effort defensively and rebounding the ball. It is very disappointing to fall short at the end.”

Dave Walsh led the scoring with 22 points, while Ricky Fetske notched his sixth double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Next up for the Dragons is the final NBL Division One game of 2019, as they visit Derby this Saturday at 7.15pm.