Riders and Gladiators go 2-0 – Women’s British…
Manchester Met Mystics 45-72 Leicester Riders (8-17, 21-38, 34-52)
(Mystics: Sanchez Czerniecki, 15; McDerment, 13; Keltos/Niehues, 7 – Riders: Squires, 18; Eadsforth-Yates, 14; Robb, 9)
Essex Rebels 74-82 Caledonia Gladiators (21-20, 32-48, 51-72)
(Rebels: Swart, 30; Freeman, 19; Kohlhass, 7 — Gladiators: Handy, 18; Wolfe, 16; Jones, 15)
Using their experience, Leicester carried on from last week’s win over Essex with a masterclass of team basketball, hitting 12 triples and out-rebounding the smaller Mystics unit 47-32, with 14 of those being on the offensive end.
“It was a tough, scrappy game the way through, I think Manchester did a good job of making the game scrappy, coming of a loss last week, so they had good intent,” Riders coach Krumesh Patel said.
“We knew that we had to find different solutions and we defended really well. We know that sometimes, you have to win ugly and I thought the girls did well.”
Oliana Squires led the Riders with 18 points, in a tremendous, all-round showing.
“We have some talent on our team and Oliana is one of them,” Patel said. “It’s a unique thing about her is she gets it done at both ends, she doesn’t want to just play at one end of the floor.”
Jess Eadsforth-Yates supported Squires, going 4/5 from three-point land for her 14 points.
Shaelynne Sanchez Czerniecki paced the Mystics with 15 points and five rebounds. Leah McDerment added 13 as Mystics slip to 0-2.
“We had good spurts and now it’s just a matter of putting them together and being able to have a good quarter and stack those quarters on top of each other,” McDerment said afterward.
“First half, I thought we were good. Second half, I feel fatigue got the better of us. But we’re learning a lot, we just have to keep chipping away.”
Both teams struggled to get going offensively, but Leicester was still able to get out to a 4-0 lead through a mix of transition and finding a gap in the front-court.
Manchester, who missed their first five field goals, responded with a 7-0 run, highlighted by a tough baseline jumper from McDerment to give the hosts a 7-4 advantage.
Leicester answered back with a 13-1 finish to the first as a mixture of sublime passing, and sharp shooting landed them a 17-8 lead after the opening ten minutes.
The Riders then looked clamped down on the Mystics’ resolve in the second. Back-to-back three-pointers from Squires and Fiona O’Dwyer extended Leicester’s lead to 23-10.
With their back against the wall, the young Manchester side showed their character and refused to be pushed aside as Abby Niehues and McDerment led the charge.
Leicester’s accurate shooting was evident in the first half, going 7/14 from deep as they shot 46% from the field as opposed to Mystics’ 26% as they went into the third, on the back of a buzzer-beating triple from Eadsforth-Yates, leading by 17.
Looking to come out the aggressors in the third, Manchester saw that hope snuffed out quickly as five points within the first minute ballooned Riders’ lead to 22.
And the visitors’ lead went to 50-28 with 3:51 left of the third thanks to a Hail Mary of turnaround fadeaway jump shots from O’Dwyer, solidifying their overall dominance.
Despite the significant deficit, Manchester narrowly took the third 13-11 but still trailed heading into the fourth.
Unfortunately, for the hosts, while opening the final period with decent team basketball but failed to find a score, missing their first two attempts.
Sandwiched between that mini spell was a three by Ashley Arlen to give Riders a 55-34 cushion, and it ultimately shut the Mystics out.
And the primary catalyst for back-to-back successes for Caledonia was a 12-0 run to start the second quarter, as their experience and skillset stunned the Rebels, and they never recovered.
Chantelle Handy led the Gladiators with 18 points, assisted by 16 from debutant centre Abbie Wolfe.
There was also a double-double for Erin Jones, who scored 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Sune Swart led all scorers in vain for Essex with 30 points, 16 rebounds and four steals.
From the start, the Gladiators were reliant on their three-point shooting but missed their first three attempts, and as a result, Essex began on a 6-0 run.
Robyn Lewis made it fourth time lucky for Caledonia, but Claire Paxton answered right back for the hosts from deep in a fast-paced first quarter that had the crowd glued to the action.
A three-point play from Great Britain legend Handy handed the Gladiators a slender 12-11 lead with 4:07 left in the first, but despite clawing their way back, Essex remained ahead, thanks to good execution on the offensive end.
However, Essex’s lead vanished in the second as a 12-0 run by the Gladiators catapulted them to a 32-21 lead with less than four minutes played in the second.
A score inside from Swart stemmed the bleeding as coach Tom Sadler decided not to call a timeout in that spell that saw his side miss their first six shots of the second period and instead put his faith in the girls.
However, Caledonia were clicking, as the early burst, fused by back-to-back threes in the final 30 seconds by one-time Oregon State sharpshooter Tea Adams and on the horn by Radka Stasova, gave them a 48-32 lead at the interval.
And it only got better for the visitors, as Handy showcased her star power to score 10 points in the third and give Caledonia a 72-51 cushion from which they never looked back.
Essex gave their enthusiastic support some joy in the final period as a 12-2 spell trimmed the deficit to 74-63.
However, a tough turnaround jumper from Wolfe with 3:33 left maintained Caledonia’s double-digit advantage as they head back to Scotland with the win.
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