Severn Stars endured a miserable night as they slumped to a 59-33 defeat against Team Bath.
A frustrated Stars team laboured against a physical Bath side with the best defensive record in the Vitality Netball Superleague.
Although Stars matched the hosts in the first half, a wretched second half performance saw them outscored 35-16 in the final 30 minutes of the game.
Stars were looking for a third successive victory after wins against Celtic Dragons and reigning champions Surrey Storm had propelled them into mid-table contention.
After Team Bath had raced to an early 2-0 lead in the match, at the University of Bath Sports Training Village, Stars hit back immediately to level the score in a closely contested opening to the first quarter.
Stars had to be patient to force their way through a well-organised Team Bath, but kept pace with the hosts until the final few minutes of the quarter.
Goal shooter Chelsea Lewis impressed for the home side, helping Bath to build a 13-8 lead at the end of the opening 15 minutes.
But Stars’ goal shooter Eleanor Cardwell hit two points to stem the flow as Stars came out firing in the first minute of the second quarter, cleverly finding space to evade the close marking of England goal keeper Eboni Beckford-Chambers.
The hosts soon regained their momentum though and continued to get the better of Stars. A strong performance in the final third helped them to push their lead to a commanding 10 points with three minutes left of the half.
Stars struggled to break through a disciplined Team Bath defence, but a reshuffle in the offensive line-up saw Yasmin Hodge-England move to goal shooter with Cardwell dropping to goal attack.
The move seemed to temporarily rejuvenate Stars’ attack as patient build-up play led to three successive goals to help cut the deficit, leaving the visitors heading into the break with a 24-17 lead.
But things worsened for Stars after the restart as the hosts ran riot in a decisive third quarter, extending their lead to 17 points before wing defence Becky Oatley was forced off through injury.
Stars made a number of changes as they trailed 43-26 heading into the final quarter, with Rebecca Tildesley, Rachel Sweet and Sophie Carter taking to the court to give the side an injection of energy.
But Stars remained on the back foot for the final 15 minutes, as a buoyant Team Bath continued to pile on the misery, seeing out the game to claim a commanding victory.
Stars’ captain Laura Malcolm said the loss was “very disappointing”.
“Coming into it after the win we had against Surrey, we felt confident. But they got the better of us,” she said.
“I think we played into their hands. We know we can break them down.
“For us, it’s about reading what’s happening in the game and changing what we’re doing if it’s not working.
“But instead of changing it up and doing different things, we persisted on doing the same things that they were comfortable dealing with.
“We expect better of ourselves and we can do better, so we’ll be looking to improve on this against Wasps.”
Stars travel across the Midlands to face Wasps Netball at the Ricoh Arena on Monday (May 1) at 6pm.
Their next home game is against Manchester Thunder on Saturday May 6 (7.30pm).