University of Nottingham used a big 3rd quarter, including 6 three pointers to beat Team Birmingham Elite 75-68 and claim the WNBL Division 2 Playoff Title. A back and forth contest, Birmingham dominated the early going behind the solid 1-2 combo of guard Becky Brindley and forward Lucy Allen. But as the game progressed, Nottingham adjusted and limited Allen's looks to begin turning the game in their favour.
Another key component of that turnaround was the hot shooting of Nottingham's Eleanor Bishop as she began to heat up in the 2nd half. Finishing with 28 points after going 8/13 from beyond the arc, her upturn in form helped the University side grab the initiative and build a lead they'd never relinquish.
Nottingham's D2W North MVP Gabriela Bronson added another MVP award to her resume with a well rounded performance. Amassing 23 points, 15 rebounds, 9 assists and 6 steals, she was a factor throughout and a deserved recipient.
Allen and Brindley both started the game well, leading many in attendance to believe that Birmingham might have too much for the University side. Frequent plays in the opening quarter saw the ball in the hands of Brindley before she’d cut to the basket, exploiting the defensive attention to dish a measured assist to Allen. By the end of the period, Allen had 11 points and Brindley had 7 assists.
That opening 10 minutes provided plenty of food for thought for D2W North Coach of the Year Andrea Congreaves and she quickly set about adjusting her teams game plan for the remainder of the game. Her tactics clearly had the desired effect as Brindley only managed 5 more assists and Allen scored 10 more points in the remaining 30 minutes of action. With an even 2nd quarter finishing tied at 16-16, it was 38-31 Birmingham at the half.
The 3rd quarter belonged to Nottingham, or more accurately to Eleanor Bishop. The talented guard time and again let fly from distance with a consistent level of success. When Birmingham did take steps to try and chase her off the perimeter, Bronson was more than willing to take advantage of the extra space. A 31-11 quarter was manufactured largely by Bishop though who went 4/5 from deep to add 14 points to the Nottingham cause. With Birmingham unable to work the ball inside to Allen for the level of success they enjoyed in the 1st quarter, the game quickly changed.
Starting the final frame up by 13, that quickly became 16 when Bishop hit yet another 3 and many would have been forgiven for thinking the game was set up for a quiet final 10 minutes. Becky Brindley had other ideas though and the Birmingham guard went from provider to scorer to ditch her early assists for 13 final quarter points. That helped to trim the Nottingham lead all the way down to just 3 with 3 minutes on the clock. Try as they might down the stretch though, Birmingham just couldn’t find the scores they needed to get any closer, much to their despair.
All images courtesy of Mansoor Ahmed/AhmedPhotos
20 May 2019
14 May 2019