The Dragons arrived at the Brentwood Centre on a seven game winning strake and the Big Cats trailed most of regulation time against Dragons before a 14-2 run capped by three point plays from Howard Crawford and Carl Josey saw Leopards take a 68-62 lead into the final two minutes .
However the points dried up at that stage, and American forward Dan Foley twice scored treys, and Josey and Siman Stewart both missed shots which would have sealed the win .
The drought continued until the 3:16 mark when Courtney Van Beest tied the score at 70 after Carl Pearson’s pair of free-throws had opened the extra five minute period .
Bradford never got closer than three points in the final minutes as Kris Clark wrapped up the win from the foul line .
Clark finished with a team-high 23 points and five assists, with Crawford adding 19 points and seven rebounds . Captain Josey had nine rebounds to go with his ten point with Stewart also finishing with nine boards along with seven points.
Jermayne Lang opened the scoring for the visitors before Ish Fontaine drained a trey .
Clark also scored from downtown to put the Big Cats 6-4 ahead 7:36 on the clock but that proved to be the last time Leopards led until the fourth period, and Vance Silcott launched a 7-1 run which put the visitors in charge .
Tom Martin continued the three-point fest with a trey against his old club to cut the deficit to 19-16 at the first break but Foley hit a trey to open the second period and a Pearson basket put his side 24-16 up two minutes into the stanza .
A Clark steal and basket made it a three point game, but that was as close as Leopards got in the second period as Foley sent his side into the locker room with a 41-35 lead.
Pearson opened the second half scoring, and it took until the 6:28 mark for Clark to put some points on the board for Leopards.
The Dragons’ lead peaked at 12 with 1:45 on the clock before scores from Van Beest and Stewart cut the deficit to 58-50 going into the fourth period.
Crawford made it an eight point game with the opening score of the fourth quarter but it was the 14-2 run as Leopards held Bradford scoreless for over six minutes which set up the win and saw the Big Cats move up to third place.
Thames Valley Cavaliers continue to be Leopards’ bogey team as they went down 97-80, on Saturday .
It was the Big Cats’ fifth defeat in 14 months against the big-spending Uxbridge side and saw the home side finish strongly as Leopards had competed well for the first two and a half periods .
Leopards stayed in tough in the first period, going into the opening break 23-18 down and trailed 32-23 after four second quarter minutes.
But a pair of three-point plays from Luke Mascall-Wright launched a 21-8 run capped by two triples from Findlay Wood as Leopards took a 44-42 lead into the locker room at half-time .
Cavaliers opened the second half with seven straight points, but a Wood trey and a Hodges lay-up tied the scores with three minutes gone.
Mascall-Wright put Leopards ahead for what proved to be the final time a minute later, but Prince Larty hit a trey to launch a 20-8 run capped by a Abdoulaye Sylla buzzer-beating three to lead 72-59 going into the last break .
Five straight Asante Sandiford points and a Mascall-Wright lay-up saw the deficit cut to seven with three minutes gone in the fourth period but a bizarre intentional foul call on Mascall-Wright ended any chance of a fight-back
Sandiford led Leopards with 19 points and ten rebounds, and Hodges also added a double-double with 18 points and 13 boards . Mascall-Wright finished with 14 points and four rebounds.
Sylla finished with a 27 point, 12 rebound double-double for the home side, while Elliott Defraitas added 25 points and 12 boards .
A disastrous third period saw the Big Cats’ dream of National Cup glory end with a 98-82 home loss against Reading Rockets, on Sunday . Baker’s team had controlled the early stages of the game, going into the first break with a 21-18 lead and although they trailed 44-39 at half-time, it was a 39-21 third period that ended their chances of lifting the oldest piece of silverware in English basketball for a fourth time .
Hazeef Abdul and Jerrelle Okoro both scored 20 points, adding five and six rebounds respectively, with Okoro dishing out six assists. Oaklands junior Toby Gastaldi-Davies hit three treys to finish with nine points, with captain Chuck Duru and Prince Lartey also adding nine points apiece .
Reading were led by Nick Richard who finished with 33 points, seven rebounds, six steals and four assists while Liam Davis had a 19 point, ten rebound double-double . AJ Carr finished with 16 points and seven rebounds as the visitors won the battle of the boards 49-33 to take their place in the last four.
Coach Baker sprung a surprise by putting Teni Mongo and Ray Akpofure in the starting line-up in place of Lartey and Duru, and in common with the league visit from Rockets, Leopards started well .
Back-to-back Abdul scores helped them to an 8-2 lead, and although the visitors answered with eight unanswered points a trey from Duru and a successful four-point Abdul play saw the Big Cats go into the first break ahead by three .
The second period proved to be tougher for the hosts despite Mongo putting them up by six early in the quarter before David Chive halved that advantage with a trey .
Gastaldi-Davies sunk his first trey to put the Big Cats 35-34 ahead heading into the final two minutes of the half and Akpofure made it a three-point game before Carr’s treble sparked a 10-2 Reading run to give his side a five point lead heading into the locker room at half-time .
That heralded the start of the Rockets’ run that sealed the win as only Okoro got on the scoresheet in the first three minutes of the second half, with Carr hitting a trey in a 9-2 run .
Duru broke the tear, but despite triples from Larty, Abdul and two from Gastaldi-Davies Reading took control with Richards scoring 13 points in the quarter .
Richards scored Reading’s first five points of the fourth period as the lead opened out to 88-66, and there was no way back for Leopards as the visitors wrapped up the win.