London Lions have won the first piece of WBBL silverware in the club’s history after picking up the WBBL Trophy with an impressive 96-64 defeat of Nottingham Wildcats at the University of Worcester Arena, live on Sky Sports, making up for a defeat in the final of this competition in 2016.
Lions were dominant from tip-to-buzzer after a 13-2 start in which GB international point guard Kennedy Leonard came up with an early steal and assist before knocking down a pair of three-pointers in the opening three minutes.
Leonard finished the game hunting a triple-double with 21 points, nine assists, seven steals and six rebounds to pick up the MVP award.
The lead went through 20 when Lions scored 13 more in a row in the second stanza, holding Nottingham scoreless for more than three minutes to lead 47-24 as Stephanie Umeh scored six off the bench and Cassie Breen added five from the free-throw line. Breen had 12 points in the opening 15 minutes, going 10-10 at the line for a WBBL Trophy Final record.
And after another nine consecutive points, with Umeh adding an ‘and-one’ play for the last score of the half, the lead reached 30 points and a margin that was never threatened in the second half as Breen added another seven early points.
London’s final total on 96 points was a WBBL Trophy Final record, as Breen finished with 25 including 6-6 inside, while Umeh got to 19 and captain Shanice Beckford-Norton scored 13.
Head Coach Mark Clark commented to Sky Sports after the game,
“It’s the first trophy for the organisation, which is always a big one. They are a great group of people, from when they first came in and dealt with everything that everyone is having to deal with.
“To get a piece of silverware for the organisation and the team is such a great feeling.”
Meanwhile, in the WBBL Championship, Sevenoaks Suns closed the gap on the top three, and remained unbeaten in league play at 7-0, after beating third-placed Essex Rebels 64-52.
Cat Carr scored 12 of her game-high 29 points in a second quarter that they dominated, coming back from an early deficit to pour in 32 points and lead 45-31 at the half. Carr and Ta’Yani Clark – who had a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds – combined for nearly three-quarters of the team’s points.
Finally, bottom-placed Durham Palatinates picked up a first win of the WBBL Championship season, beating fellow Play-off chasing rivals Caledonia Pride 56-63 on the road.
Durham scored the last seven points of the first half, with Goretti Hurtado Barbeito beating the buzzer, and then she added a pair of three-pointers as they scored the opening 14 points of the third quarter in an amazing 21 point surge that made the score 44-24.
Palatinates needed that cushion, as the hosts came all the way back to tie in the fourth quarter, until Jazmin Gyulai and Kara Elderkin – who finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds – made key scores to give the visitors breathing space and secure the win late on.
The day prior, Sevenoaks Suns overcame a stern test from Newcastle Eagles to ensure their sixth win in as many games, whereas the Wolves put some space between themselves and Durham Palatinates in the league table and a dominant final quarter from Manchester saw them overcome Cardiff Met Archers.
The afternoon’s action tipped off in Surrey where the Suns looked to maintain their unbeaten record against the Eagles and the in-form Alison Gorrell.
It was a slow start for both teams in a first quarter marred by errors on both ends, but the Suns hit their stride in the second to take a nine point lead into the half.
Catherine Carr was two rebounds shy of a triple-double as she posted 13 points, eight rebounds and 12 assists as the Suns looked to stave off a late Eagles comeback as the Suns lead was cut to only five points. Maddy Mcvicar led all players in scoring with 24 points and Gorrell posted 23 points to go with seven rebounds, but an assured performance from a rampant Suns side secured a well-earned victory.
Down the other end of the table Oaklands Wolves edged Durham Palatinates in an enthralling affair that went right to the wire.
The Wolves were looking to snap a three game losing streak and were met by a Palatinates side still looking for their first Championship win of the season. It was Durham who started the brighter of the two sides and took a four point lead going into halftime.
Oaklands emerged for the final two periods the stronger side, and held Durham to only 12 points in the third quarter as they made their way towards a much-needed victory.
Greeta Uprus led Wolves with 18 as Goretti Hurtado Barbeito enjoyed a good outing for Durham, as she posted 18 points of her own in a disappointing afternoon for the Palatinates.
The day’s final game saw Manchester Met Mystics blow away Cardiff Met Archers, as a dominating final quarter capped off a huge win for the Mystics that keeps them close to the teams at the top of the table.
Manchester started the game the better of the two sides and took a nine point lead going into the half. Cardiff fired out the blocks at the beginning of the third and managed to cut the lead to only three points, however a dominating final period saw the Mystics outscore Cardiff 22-7, to put the gloss on Manchester’s third win on the bounce.
Cristina Bigica had an incredible personal game, scoring half of all of Cardiff’s points with a 27 point outing. Georgia Jones had a dominant performance for Manchester, posting a huge double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds to cap off a thoroughly entertaining afternoon of WBBL action.