26 points from Ekimini Essien helped #1 seed Team Solent Kestrels move on to the #FinalFours against a spirited Reading Rockets side this weekend.
Despite their lofty seeding and home court advantage, the 1st quarter was a back and forth affair with both teams giving as good as they got. The balance eventually tipped the way of the Kestrels and the quarter closed with the hosts up by 5 before Solent began to pull away. With Ekimini Essien recording 13 of her points in the 1st half and Inga Muciniece controlling the glass, the lead began to increase before settling at 9 on 32-23.
With designs on getting back into the contest, Reading came out firing and with Andrea Gomez de la Vara growing into the contest for the visitors, the lead began to shrink. Cutting their arrears down to just 4 points, Solent sensed the danger and turned to their bench for support. In the 4th, Kalina Axentieva stood up to be counted for the Kestrels as she was the one who steered the side to safety with 8 points and Reading eventually ran out of time to mount another comeback.
Solent's Ekimini Essien (black kit) will no doubt be in the D1W MVP conversation this season - Mirrorbox Studios
Victory in all 4 quarters confirmed Southwark’s superiority over Anglia Ruskin this weekend to book a place in the next round of the D1W playoffs. Alimat Onuyemi-Daniel led all scorers with 21 on a day when pretty much everything went right for the #2 seeds.
Nadege Talva offered some resistance for ARU and finished with 17 points but the French national’s efforts were never going to be enough. With a lead already into double digits by the half time break, a 39-27 score continued to stretch in a high scoring 3rd. The final quarter involved a lot less scoring, but during a period of the game where the visitors needed plenty of baskets they ended up proving elusive.
Bristol Academy Flyers lined up a trip to Solent in the #FinalFours after an impressive road win against Barking Abbey. Winning all 4 quarters meant that BA were never presented with a way back into the contest once they fell behind after a sloppy 2nd quarter.
As you would imagine from 2 sides that finished tied on 24 points after the regular season, both sides were evenly matched in the early going. 3 pointers from Liisa Juul helped keep the visitors ahead and they eventually finished with a 4-point lead after the 1st quarter. Unfortunately for BA, they couldn’t keep things close until the break as turnovers and poor execution continually cost the hosts as they fell behind 34-21 by the half.
Everything that Barking tried from there on out had an answer from Bristol. Deep balls from Taneka Rubin and Teo Armanu were matched by Amani Clark and Maialen Zilbeti. With an 18-point cushion heading into the 4th, Abbey put on a press to try and force turnovers but to no avail.
“It’s a tough way to finish a season after having taken so many big strides forward,” BA Coach Tope Alli-Balogun commented after the game. “Turnovers at pivotal times really disrupted the rhythm we were used to playing with. With all this said, we have very good performances from Megan Sheret and Teo Armanu who both continue to improve with every game played.”
For Bristol’s Coach Till though, he had the ability to cast his attention forward after this victory kept his sides’ playoff chances alive, “We’re looking forward to the Solent game, it will be the toughest test playing the league champions in their own backyard. We’re under no illusions we will have to be at our very best if we want to make it through to the final.”
Teo Armanu's 16 points weren't enough for Barking this weekend as they crashed out of the post season - Barking Abbey
A slow start ultimately proved terminal for Essex Blades as they looked to stage an upset win over Charnwood. 15 points from Chloe Compton allowed the hosts to capitalise on their opponent’s struggles and book a place in the #FinalFours.
Limiting Essex to just 3 points in the 1st period, Charnwood were able to establish an 11-point advantage that they wouldn’t rest upon. With no let-up in sight, the 2nd was a higher scoring affair from both sides but it was once again the Riders who would could out on top. Stretching their lead to 19 points at 36-17, it was a dominant position that the hosts wouldn’t relinquish from there on out.
It was a difficult afternoon for the Blades who struggled for consistency throughout. With no player making it into double digits scoring, it was a bad time for their offence to go cold as the 5th highest scoring team in the regular season.