BRADFORD Dragons defeated Barking Abbey 76-72 in a hard-fought National Basketball League Division One battle.

In a game that went down to the wire, the Dragons clutched a third successive victory and their seventh win in the last eight league games.

On a day where fellow playoff-chasing Leicester Warriors defeated Reading Rockets 83-71, the Dragons resilient win could prove to be even more important come the end of the regular season.

Looking to bounce back from two narrow losses in recent weeks, it was Barking who stormed into an early 10-0 lead.

Dragons got off to a slow offensive start, missing their first nine shots as Theo Hughes, Tautvydas Mieliauskas, Veron Eze and Tim Shodipo all got on the scoreboard early for the hosts.

Rihards Šulcs scored the Dragons' first points via two made free throws.

A 7-0 run courtesy of Dave Walsh, Šulcs and Andreas Lycoudis got the Dragons back to a one-score game with three minutes to play in the first quarter.

Both teams traded buckets for the remainder of the quarter as the hosts led 19-17 at the end of the opening period.

In the second quarter, a 10-0 run fired the visitors into their first lead of the game. Four Dragons scored in the run that propelled the team into a 33-28 lead.

Just as the visitors looked to be taking control, Barking responded by scoring ten straight points of their own.

Eze and Hughes both knocked down a three each, in the run that handed the young team a 38-33 lead with 46 seconds left to play in the half.

Jermayne Laing trimmed the half-time deficit to 38-35 with a mid-range jumper in the Dragons final offensive possession of the half.

In a game of runs, the third quarter proved to be a challenging period for Dragons. Up by as many as ten, Barking’s three-point shooting was causing problems.

Hitting five threes in the quarter, the hosts almost doubled the Dragons' three-point makes for the entire game.

After Thomas Sowoolu banked home a driving lay-up, the hosts were up 61-51 with just under two minutes to play in the penultimate quarter.

Lycoudis and Walsh both scored at the charity stripe, cutting the Barking lead to seven points as the third period came to a close (61-54).

In the face of adversity, Dragons responded, going on a 10-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter that put them back in control, up 65-63.

Kenny Ogunneye and Šulcs asserted their dominance on both sides of the ball, with their tenacious rebounding key down the stretch.

Tied at 69-69, captain Ricky Fetske rose to the occasion and knocked down a jumper that gave the visitors a two-point lead.

Louis Norton responded with a big-three pointer for the hosts but Dragons stalwart Rihards Šulcs then stole the ball and drove on the fast break for a pivotal layup that once again put the visitors back on top.

Andreas Lycoudis went to the free-throw line and hit two clutch free-throws with 22 seconds left on the clock, extending the lead to 75-72.

With 11 seconds on the clock, Barking’s Jude Carmichael turned the ball over amidst tenacious Dragons defensive pressure. Left with no choice but to foul, the hosts sent Šulcs to the free-throw line where he knocked down 1-2, sealing a clutch 76-72 road victory.

The visitors clamped down defensively and held Barking to 11 points in the final quarter.

Despite offensive struggles, the Dragons more than made up for it on the defensive end.

The low-scoring victory takes the visitors to 10-8 on the season and within two points of the Worthing Thunder, who sit in seventh place.

Coach Chris Mellor said: “It was a tight game throughout, and we just managed to get some key stops in the 4th and make some shots when it mattered.”

Dave Walsh led all scorers with 20 points. Šulcs notched his fifth double-double of the season with 13 points and 17 rebounds. Ogunneye added 8 points and 14 rebounds.

Next up for Dragons is a home double header. They host leaders Solent Kestrels on Saturday (4.15pm) followed by Nottingham Hoods on Sunday (6.15pm).

Meanwhile, Dragons U14s lost a difficult road game to the Derbyshire Arrows 110-44. The U16s defeated the York Eagles II 74-62.