WORCESTER Wolves missed the chance to confirm a home BBL Cup quarter-final tie after they lost by the slenderest of margins to Surrey Scorchers.

The 78-77 setback means Wolves complete their group qualification fixtures with a 6-4 win-loss record.

Victory for nearest rivals Bristol Flyers in their final qualifier at London Lions on Wednesday will leave Wolves facing a road trip to Sheffield Sharks in the final eight of the competition instead of welcoming Newcastle Eagles to Worcester.

Friday night’s match started well for Wolves as their big man pairing of Julius Van Sauers and Jordan Williams blocked successive Surrey attacks, contributing to 10 points without reply.

Scorchers reduced the lead to 21-16 by the close of the first quarter before a confident Williams drive and a coast-to-coast pleaser from Cortez Edwards re-established control.

But the visitors again came back into the contest. Caylin Raftopoulos sank a three-pointer to tie matters at 32-32.

James Hawthorne blew the chance to put his side in front by misjudging the power needed to dunk the ball through the net, bringing howls of derision from a large University of Worcester Arena crowd.

A Mark Hughes triple nudged Wolves 37-36 ahead as the second half began. A free-scoring third period ended with Surrey on top at 57-53.

That advantage extended to 66-57 with six minutes left in the evening as Worcester repeatedly telegraphed passes, allowing easy interceptions for their opponents.

Kofi Josephs inspired a fightback with continued forward thrusts that forced Scorchers to foul to slow his advances.

Joseph’s perfect seven-from-seven free throws brought the teams together at 74-74 by the final couple of minutes of the match.

An exchange of scores from Raftopoulos and Hughes had Worcester clinging to a 77-76 lead with 10 seconds remaining before a Tayo Ogedengbe layup once more seesawed the outcome.

With just a second and a half to go Wolves had sideline possession but found their attempts to inbound the ball frustrated by the hulking presence of 6ft 11in NBA draftee Ryan Richards, leaving a desperate Williams shot to fall short.

Maarten Bouwknecht led the Worcester scorers with 15 points, closely followed by 14 apiece for Josephs and Williams and 13 from Hughes.

Wolves head coach Matt Newby said: “If you don’t perform you don’t win. We didn’t perform. It’s as simple as that.”

It will be at least a fortnight before Wolves take to the court again, either travelling to Sheffield Sharks or hosting Newcastle Eagles.