WBBL: Wildcats Make Trophy Final, Four of League’s Top Five Win

Saturday saw five games across the WBBL Trophy and WBBL Championship, with Nottingham Wildcats making it to next weekend’s WBBL Trophy Final, while BA London Lions and Sevenoaks Suns remained unbeaten in the Championship.

Nottingham were losing finalists in the inaugural WBBL Trophy showpiece in 2015, and will get the opportunity to make amends after beating Manchester Met Mystics 90-75 at the National Basketball Performance Centre, behind a dominant second half display and a double-double of 24 points and 15 rebounds from Jasmine Joyner.

Wildcats had two previous big double-digit wins over Mystics this season, but were down by double-figures themselves midway through the third period.

From there they took over, scoring 17 points in a row – six for Joyner and capped by a Siobhan Prior three-pointer – to snatch the lead back at 69-62 heading into the final quarter, having held their hosts scoreless for six minutes.

Then midway through the fourth, Joyner scored seven more in a 13-0 burst that decided the game at 85-66. In all, that was an unbelievable 33-4 spell in 13 second half minutes, during which Joyner scored 13 of her points.

Nottingham will face league-leaders BA London Lions in the final, at Worcester University Arena on Sunday 21st March.

Lions remain top of the WBBL Championship after an 86-66 home win over second-bottom Oaklands Wolves, Shanice Beckford-Norton scoring 24 while Kennedy Leonard had an amazing stat line of 11 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds and six steals.

It was a twelfth win in a row in all competitions since November, now 8-0 in the league, and Lions were dominant early as they raced into a 12-2 lead after five minutes when Valentina Klocker scored six.

Wolves got back to within one shot in the third, but Lions responded with nine in a row – four for Stephanie Umeh – in a decisive 14-2 push that also included five for Beckford-Norton, as they didn’t allow their visitors a field goal for nearly four minutes to lead 59-44.

Leicester Riders stay second after coming through a tough game against Cardiff Met Archers to win 70-62, and make it back-to-back wins to arrest a dip in form.

The teams traded big runs through the first three quarters, and headed into the fourth separated by just two points. It was a one shot game for almost the entirety of the fourth period, with Riders up 63-62 with two minutes to play.

From there, Hannah Robb made a pair of crucial free-throws on her way to 17 points off the bench, before a big block from Amber Smith – who led the scoring with 21 points – and then a strong interior play that settled the game from Azania Stewart, making it 67-62 in a low-scoring last ten minutes.

Third spot was consolidated for now by Essex Rebels as they triumphed north of the border at Caledonia Pride, 74-66, for a third win in four games.

On the road for the first time in a month, Rebels opened 9-2 as Ashleigh Munns started and finished an early run in a game they led from tip-to-buzzer.

Pride were still within a couple of shots midway through the third quarter, until another 9-2 run that included five more points for Munns, among her 18, made the score 49-37. After holding their hosts to just 10 third quarter points, Rebels needed that cushion to withstand a fourth quarter surge, until Munns scored again and DeAngelique Waithe added consecutive baskets to settle it.

Finally, Sevenoaks Suns also remain unbeaten in league play at 4-0 after a long-range shooting clinic saw them past Durham Palatinates on the road, 79-59.

Suns broke an early tie when Renee Busch hit consecutive three-pointers to set the tone at 13-7, before they started pouring in from everywhere as Cat Carr, Janice Monakana, Asha Andrews, Lavinia Da Silva and Irene Garrido-Perez all connected from beyond the arc to make the score 42-19.

Suns scored an incredible nine three-pointers in the opening 14 minutes to build that lead, and never trailed in the game. By the conclusion, they had hit nearly as many threes (14) as twos (16), with Busch finishing on 21 points from 7-10 long-range shooting.

And on Sunday, Newcastle Eagles claimed their fifth win of the season as they beat the Caledonia Pride thanks to another phenomenal display by Alison Gorrell.

Gorrell, the Eagles captain dropped 30 points, as well as providing nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals.

Abigail Lowe added some great help for Newcastle, with 17 points, five rebounds and five assists, as the Eagles provided 30 assists all game, compared to just 13 for the Pride.

Maddy McVicar also continued her great season, as she put up 15 points, four rebounds, six assists and three steals.

The game was close come the end of the half, with the Eagles edging it by just two points, with Gorrell and Lowe having 16 and 15 respectively through 20 minutes.

It was the third quarter where the hosts were able to create a gap, as they won the quarter by ten points to jump out into a double digit lead that they continued to stretch throughout the final quarter.

For the Pride, both Maud Ranger and Rose Harvey dropped 20 points, and Elise Tweedi came off the bench to put up ten points and five rebounds.

It was a difficult second half to the game for the Pride, as they managed only 14 points in the final two quarters, and that is something they will look to rectify before next weekend’s game at home to the Nottingham Wildcats.