WNBL Division One
Loughborough Riders 65 – Ipswich Basketball 68
Ipswich Basketball Clubs Senior Women bounced back from last weekend’s back-to-back losses against Bristol and Loughborough to record a hugely important win on the road in the return fixture with Loughborough, to keep their hopes of a top four finish in WNBL Division One alive.
Following last weekend’s heart-breaking losses, Ipswich could have been forgiven for conceding that a mid-table finish was on the cards, something that many people wouldn’t have predicted after the loss of seven of the teams eight most experienced players over the summer. However, Ipswich have been amongst the best teams in the league so far this season. As teams grow and develop over time, they develop their own ‘identity’, and in the case of this particular group, it would appear that they don’t know when they are beaten. Of the eleven games Ipswich have won this season, seven of them have required some kind of comeback in the second half. And, Saturday’s win now means that Ipswich are the only team in WNBL Division One that can claim to have beaten all of the top three teams so far this season – a record that should give the Suffolk side confidence heading towards to post-season.
The game itself saw Ipswich get off to the perfect start, playing a controlled brand of offense while holding their opponents to just thirteen points in the period, while connecting on twenty-two for themselves.
The second quarter saw Loughborough fight their way back into the game, and with Ipswich struggling to maintain their offensive rhythm, the Riders were able to take the quarter 15-10 in a low scoring period, that enabled Ipswich to hang on to a narrow 32-28 lead.
The third quarter saw Loughborough further gain momentum, extending their lead to twelve points at one stage, behind some sharp three-point shooting, before a flurry of Ipswich baskets, clawed things back to six points as the game entered the final act – Riders led 50-44.
The final quarter again saw the Riders extend their lead, before Ipswich found their own form from beyond the arc as just like the previous week, the game seemed to be turning into a three-point shoot-out. However, with under three minutes to play, the home team still held a five point advantage – but a number of key stops at the defensive end, combined with some clutch shooting from Olivia Forster and two key three-throws from Saruna Gudza enabled Ipswich to creep ahead in the final minute, holding their opponents scoreless in the final 90 seconds to record a crucial victory, and all but end Loughborough’s hopes of catching CoLA at the top of the league. Final score Loughborough Riders 65 Ipswich 68.
“This was as well as we have played all season, again showing that we are a very capable team at this level. We travelled with just eight players and I think this was our most rounded team performance of the season, with all of the girls playing a role that contributed to the win. We have a nice blend of talent on this team, with everyone knowing their role, and its great to be getting such huge contributions off the bench from Christabel, Hannah and Alice, who were all outstanding, to go with the excellent play from the likes of Cameron, Yassin, Ava, Liv and Saruna”. Said Head Coach Nick Drane.
Liv Forster enjoyed perhaps her best game of the season, scoring a game high 27, including several clutch shots to help the team to victory. Elsewhere, CTW was again all over the court with fifteen boards and eight assists, and Christabel Osarobo collected her first double-double (10 points and 10 rebounds) at senior level, while Gudza’s clutch free-throws sealed the victory.
Ipswich are on the road again next weekend where they will face both Worcester and Reading in back-to-back away games – with both teams fighting to stay in WNBL Division One, Ipswich should be expecting two tough battles.