DESPITE a 12-point lead early in the third quarter, Mansfield Express crumbled to another defeat, 95-78, against 'bogey team, Hull Icebergs.

Tuesday, 6th February 2001, 11:00 pm

High-flying Hull had won all three of their previous National League games with Mansfield and entered the game with only four defeats all season.

Express were again without big man Darren Weaver who looks set to be out for another couple of weeks.

More spice was added to the game with the fact that Express top scorer Karl Seamarks was a leading player at Hull for some time.

Another large crowd in this Chad-sponsored 'Kids for a Quid evening waited in expectancy to see if Express could melt the Icebergs and consolidate their position in the play-off zone.

Hull s 6ft 8ins John Brignell made his mark early on with a starting two pointer and proceeded to dominate under the basket scoring nine points personal, half of Hull s total.

Express, however, were putting in a magnificent team effort with six points apiece for Daniel Richards and Seamarks and five from on- form Dave Hickey saw the home side go into the second quarter with a precious and well-earned 19-18 advantage.

The introduction of Dylan Bogg in the second quarter put another head of steam into the Express train with another textbook downtown three pointer and two lay ups, consolidated by good work by Pete Olusoga, Richards and Seamarks.

Hickey was continuing his run of form with three more points but was starting to get into foul trouble.

Whilst not scoring, Terry Mangham was continuing to run the floor and control the pace of the game.

Hull rested 19-year-old Brignell and replaced him with Shakespeare who was built like a weightlifter and drew fouls from the Express squad, converting all his points from the free throw line.

Express again held the Icebergs to 18 points whilst scoring 22 and were looking good at half time with a 5 point lead at 41-36.

Better was to come from Express as they surged into a 12-point advantage early in the third quarter with the point scoring dominated by a well motivated Seamarks (nine) and Bogg (eight).

With the game running away from them, Icebergs called a time out in an attempt to reverse their fortunes.

Hull decided to pressure the Express team on their own line and put two men on the home guard and stop Express playing.

The tactics worked with spectacular results as guard Taryn Algar pressured and turned the game Hull s way with 15 personal in the quarter.

Assisted by ex-England Star and coach Kevin Penny they ran riot, outscoring Express in the quarter by 10 points, turning a12-point deficit into a five-point lead at 66-61.

With the crowd urging their heroes on they were expecting a big comeback. But Hull then introduced a fast transition player in James Miller, who ran riot as Express were running out of steam.

Some controversial decisions by the officials and 11 out of 12 free throws saw Hull consolidate their lofty place in the league at the expense of an Express team who lost Hickey, Richards and Olusoga all fouled out.

Coach Ian Richards was obviously disappointed to lose a game that at one point they seemed to be in control of and is determined to correct the second half decline of recent games.

The introduction of American player Bryce Heard (see right) bodes well for the future as he showed a safe pair of hands and he looks a great prospect and it is hoped he will be with the club for several years to come. Top scorers:

Karl Seamarks (22), Daniel Richards (18), Dylan Bogg (16). Hull: Taryn Algar (22), John Brignell (17), Miller and Shakespeare (14).

In the Sportsmatch Schools League there wins for Brookfield against Manor and Joseph Whittaker against Quarrydale. MVPs for the games were Nunn for Brookfield and Dennis Simmons for Joseph Whittaker.

Next week s game is away at Taunton Tigers with the series poised at 1-1, Taunton having won in the league and Express winning the controversial National Trophy semi final at the MLC.