WORCESTER Wolves' dream of winning the British Basketball League is virtually over for another year despite easily seeing off the challenge of Durham Wildcats at the University Arena.
The victory, inspired by 36 points from Will Creekmore, kept them second in the table but Newcastle Eagles' 82-78 success against Sheffield Sharks means Wolves' title hopes hang by a thread.
Newcastle will wrap up the league if they win their final two matches against Surrey United and Birmingham Knights.
If that happens, Worcester, who have six matches left, could only finish on the same number of points as the Eagles and have already lost the head-to-head between the sides.
Coming on the back of an emotional BBL Trophy success, it was always possible that Durham could rain on Worcester’s parade.
But, after a ponderous start, where the teams were tied after the first quarter, Wolves ensured there would be no such let-down.
Creekmore opened proceedings with a confident three-pointer and saw Zaire Taylor and Alex Owumi bag six points apiece in the first quarter.
Creekmore slotted home a double of baskets at the beginning of the second period to stretch the hosts' advantage to 19-15.
Aside from another score from Taylor, it was all Creekmore for the next six minutes. Time and again he was passed the ball close to the hoop and time and again he casually stepped around helpless Wildcat defenders to lay the ball home.
Once Jamal Williams, MVP in the Trophy final, had also showed his mettle with a coast-to-coast dribble and conversion, Durham coach Lee Davie was forced to call for a time-out with his side trailing 34-20.
Coming out of the half-time locker rooms still in arrears at 44-34, there was a final flurry of resistance from the visitors.
A triple from point guard Devin Ginty and a bucket from his backcourt partner RJ Evans reduced the deficit to 46-41.
But Worcester once more turned to the metronomic efficiency of Creekmore as he added 12 more points to the 18 he had accumulated before the interval.
By the last minute of the third quarter the win had been effectively sealed at 63-45.
The torment continued for the Wildcats in the final quarter until Wolves’ coach Paul James mercifully called off his big guns and gave some court time to his reserves.
The director of basketball said: “Once we established our defence, everything started to click. We chased them off the three-point line, keeping them down to only one success from nine attempts in the second-half. It was then just down to us executing our offence.”
On Creekmore's efforts, James added: “We went to one of our strengths. Durham had no one who could hold Will back, so we just kept feeding him. Our players understand that if someone is hot then you get him the ball.”
Alongside Creekmore, who also grabbed 17 rebounds, Owumi tallied 16 points and nabbed 10 rebounds, while Taylor scored 18 points and served up an impressive 14 assists.
Ginty top-scored for Durham with 16 points.