In a game that saw 14 ties and ten lead changes, Leopards led 84-82 following a Brian Nguru basket with 91 seconds on the clock.
But after Ladi Brown was clattered driving to the basket with 44 seconds remaining, Leopards’ coach Steve Ogunjimi received a technical foul for protesting, and the game swung in the visitors’ favour .
Will Ashby kept Leopards within a point with 24 seconds on the clock, but with the home side forced to foul to stop the clock, Nick Rhodes doubled the hosts’ lead as he split a pair of free-throws and Nguru’s attempted three pointer with 2.8 seconds remaining missed the target .
Ashby led the home side with 16 points, with Brown adding 15 points and captain Albert Margai finishing with 13 points and four assists. Tosin Oyelese had ten boards to go with his eight points . Rhodes led the visitors with 16 points, with Simon Kearney and Bola Adeluola each adding 14 while former Leopard Carl Josey had 14 rebounds to go with six points off two-from-ten shooting .
Earlier in the game, Leopards had started slowly Josey putting his side 7-3 ahead after three minutes before five points in 40 seconds from Brown twice tied the game .
Nguru gave Leopards their first lead of the game at 16-14 with four minutes of the first half remaining only to see the visitors close out the period on a 9-2 run to lead 28-20 at the first break .
Hemel responded with nine straight points before a Hayes dunk made it 39-32 and launched a 12-2 Leopards run capped by single free-throws from Oyelese and Margai to give them their first lead of the game at 42-41 with 3:41 on the clock but the visitors again answered to lead 48-46 at half-time .
Both sides struggled offensively in the opening three minutes of the second half with only Adeluola and Brown troubling the scorers, and although Brown hit two-from-three at the foul line after an Edwards foul, a Kearney trey made it 55-50 with four minutes gone .
But a barrage of treys from Ashby and Margai tied the game at 59 before a Tom Adorian triple capped a 14-6 run as Hemel went into the final break with a 73-65 lead.
Courtney Van Beest made it a six-point game off Brown’s assist and Hayes tied the score at 73 with 7:20 on the clock.
Tom Martin put Leopards up by a point before Adeluola hit five straight points to give his side a four point lead at the mid-stage of the quarter.
Van Beest and Oyelese tied the game at 79 with 3:30 remaining, before Margai put Leopards up by two.
Rhodes and Nguru both split a pair of free-throws at opposite ends of the court before the final, controversial 90 seconds saw Leopards fall to their second successive league defeat.