WBBL: Lions unbeaten, Mystics join Riders in fourth

Sheffield Hatters improved their WBBL Championship record to 8-0 in a hard-fought home victory over Newcastle Eagles on Sunday.

The Hatters were looking to maintain their perfect start against an Eagles side who had won three out of their last four. Sheffield started the game the brighter of the two sides and with the help of 16 points from the bench the Hatters carried a comfortable lead into the half.

Newcastle vastly improved in the second half and outscored their opponents 27-13 in the third quarter to reduce the deficit to single digits. Sheffield responded with a dominant effort in the defensive end to close out the game as they held the Eagles to 11 points in the final quarter to round out a comfortable win.

Helen Naylor led all scorers with 25 points for Sheffield as Chloe Gaynor racked up a double double of 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Eagles.

There was movement in the top four of the WBBL Championship on Saturday as London Lions remained unbeaten and took a share of top spot, while Manchester Met Mystics beat Leicester Riders to join them in a share of fourth.

Lions are now 9-0 after a big 87-47 road win at Durham Palatinates as Cassie Breen hit six three-pointers on her way to a game-high 24, passing a milestone of a career 500 WBBL Championship points in the process.

The visitors dominated from the early stages as they hit 17 unanswered points midway through the first quarter to lead 27-8 as Kennedy Leonard and Jo Leedham-Warner each scored five early points and Stephanie Umeh came from the bench to score consecutively.

Breen also emerged from the bench to hit a three-pointer late in the first, and then hit back-to-back triples early in the second stanza to send the lead through 20, before yet another sparked 14 unanswered points capped by Umeh’s ‘and-one’ play to make the score 52-17.

Palatinates fought back to win the third quarter, but could get no closer in the face of a three-point barrage from Breen and Leedham-Warner – who finished with 18 points – in the fourth period.

Lions join Sevenokas Suns at the summit of the table, with Sheffield Hatters also unbeaten two games behind at 7-0 as Lions travel to Hatters next on Saturday 18th December.

Meanwhile, Mystics made it five wins in their last six home games as they beat Leicester 60-53, with Lauren Thomas-Johnson scoring 14 of her game-high 21 points in the second half.

Mystics looked to be in control before the break as Erika Williams started and ended a 9-0 first quarter run with three-pointers, before hitting another pair of triples in an 8-0 start to the second stanza for a 22-11 lead – Williams had 17 points on 5-5 from beyond the arc in the first half.

But Riders came back to tie the game with a 15-4 start to the third, and despite the efforts of Thomas-Johnson in response, they led by one heading into the final five minutes.

Thomas-Johnson then made the telling contribution, responding with five points in a row before Georgia Jones capped a 9-0 tear, again holding their visitors scoreless for three minutes, in what became a 12-4 finish to the game.

Williams finished on 20 points with nine rebounds, while Dominique Allen was a big defensive presence with six points, nine rebounds and five steals.

And on Friday London Lions maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a dominant defensive display over Oaklands Wolves.

With one eye on Wednesday’s FIBA Europe Cup Playoff, a shorthanded London side named only three players on the bench after some injuries to key players. A 14-5 run to start the game gave London control of the ballgame early. London’s rapid start was followed by an incredible defensive effort in the second quarter that saw them hold Oaklands to only seven points as they took a commanding lead into half-time.

London’s lockdown defence carried on into the second half as they continued to pile the pressure on the Wolves. Oaklands were again held to single digits in points scoring in the third as the Lions closed out on another impressive win. The result sees London move to 8-0 in the Championship.

Stephanie Umeh led all scorers with 23 points as she racked up 10 rebounds on her way to a double-double, as Kennedy Leonard posted a double-double of her own with 16 points and 10 assists.