BRADFORD Dragons dropped to an agonising 78-75 defeat against Team Newcastle University in Division One of the National Basketball League on Sunday.

A last-second three from Brandon Federici sealed victory for the visitors from the North East, who scored eight straight points to end the game.

The Dragons finish the regular season in 11th with a 7-12 record, as all attention now turns to the start of the play-offs this weekend.

The visitors opened up a low-scoring opening quarter on a 7-2 run, but the Dragons responded with a three from Tyme Regent-Bascombe and a layup from Jermayne Laing to tie the game.

Newcastle then went 16-9 in front, but the hosts scored seven straight points to end the opening period tied at 16-16.

The second period followed an equally tight pattern as neither team was able to create separation.

Off the bench, sharpshooter Dave Walsh scored the Dragons’ first eight points of the quarter, but both teams cancelled each other out and at half-time the game was tied at 40-40.

Team Newcastle broke out to a 17-5 start after the break, knocking down four threes to lead 57-45.

In a pivotal stretch, the Dragons had to respond to stay in the game, and on cue, the hosts rattled off nine straight points to cut the lead to 57-54.

In the fourth quarter, the visitors struck first, opening up a 64-58 lead in the first two minutes of action.

But Bradford came roaring back with an 8-2 run that tied the game at 66-66.

The Dragons climbed into the ascendency after stringing together back-to-back three-point plays, through Andreas Lycoudis and Uche Umewke, to establish a 75-70 lead with just over two minutes remaining.

Federici dragged Newcastle level, but it was the Dragons who had a chance to claim victory with 11 seconds left on the game clock.

Chris Mellor’s team generated a good look at the rim, but it didn’t fall.

Back came the visitors, with the ball shovelled out to Federici, who swished home a game-winning three in the right corner.

With less than a second left, the Dragons had to launch a full-court heave, but it wasn’t to be, and the hosts ended the regular season with a narrow defeat.

Four Dragons hit double figures, with Lycoudis leading the scoring with 17 points, while Bradford’s man of the match Rihards Šulcs added 16 rebounds to his 12 points.

Coach Mellor reflected on his team’s inability to score down the stretch, saying: “We competed well defensively, and it was a pretty even game throughout, but we didn’t close it out, and they took full advantage.”

Next up for the Dragons is the first round of the play-offs, where they will face the Essex Rebels this Sunday, with tip-off at 1pm.