IT was a losing start to 2023 for Worcester Wolves as their late rally was unable to prevent a 72-65 defeat at St Helen Saints on Sunday.

Wolves had trailed by almost 20 points at the start of the final quarter but Evan Longman and Isaiah Walker dragged the visitors back into it.

Despite their best efforts, they had given themselves too much to do and they eventually fell to a fourth defeat of the season.

That result drops them down to fifth in the National Basketball League Division Two standings with a 7-4 win-loss record while Saints sit in second position with just one defeat from ten outings.

The visitors were compelled into an early time-out after falling 9-3 behind on the back of a basket from ex-Worcester guard Disraeli Lufadeju.

Liam Langridge-Barker hit his second three-pointer to reduce the arrears but a trio of turnovers in less than a minute put his side back into a 16-6 hole.

Matei Balteanu and Longman both debuted on the scoresheet to close St Helens’ lead to 19-15 entering the second quarter.

A dearth of scoring once more put Wolves on the back foot. More disruption ensued when Humberto Ferreira was forced to the bench after picking up his third and fourth fouls in the last minute of the half to leave Saints in charge at 35-22.

The hosts maximised their control after the break, pushing the scoreboard to 51-28 before there was any meaningful Worcester response. Longman connected twice and stole the ball from his opponent to set up a Walker dunk.

St Helens widened the gap back out to 61-43 by a couple of minutes into the last quarter but again Wolves bounced back.

Walker sandwiched another slam between a double of threes while a similar flurry of scoring from Longman dragged the deficit into single figures.

But they were not able to reduce that gap enough to force any real tension and in the end, they fell short.

Longman and Walker led the Worcester scoring with 20 and 17 points respectively, supported by 11 points from Wilfrid Santhe. Lufadeju contributed 19 of Saints total.