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Match Report: Women maintain perfect start with third road win

Nottingham Trent University 79-92 Ipswich Basketball

WNBL Division I Nottingham Trent University Ipswich continued their perfect start to the 2020/21 National Basketball League season with a third straight road win in Nottingham on Saturday evening. Following last week’s success in Southampton over the Solent Kestrels, Ipswich were facing another test against a potential title challenger in NTU. And the hosts showed their intent straight from the off, scoring the first two baskets of the game. So far this season, Ipswich have leant on Harriet Welham, Charlotte Redhead and Esther Little to establish their scoring rhythm, but this time it was a first-quarter explosion from forward Cameron Taylor-Willis which spurred the Suffolk side into an early lead. Taylor-Willis, who was yet to get into double-figures from her first two outings of the season, surpassed that mark after eight minutes and had racked up 15 points by the end of the first quarter. Little contributed a further ten in the period as Ipswich negated the hosts’ fast start to lead 26-25 by the end of the quarter. A fantastic defensive showing from Ipswich then held NTU to five points in the first eight minutes of the second quarter, with Becky Harwood-Bellis and Ella Pearson making notable contributions. Late scores by Naomi Campbell, Evi Dekker and Brahe Ashton lifted the hosts out of their slump, but by half time Ipswich had established a double-digit lead at 50-38.

Taylor-Willis had a season high 28 points (Photo: Nick Winter)

NTU are known for their ability to get into a hot streak with little notice, and four made three-pointers in the third quarter fuelled a recovery for the hosts. They twice cut the lead to two points, but two scores by Taylor-Wills and a three-pointer from Harwood-Bellis rebuilt an eight-point cushion for Ipswich by the end of the quarter. Early in the final frame, Little drove down the left side of the key and suffered an ankle injury that would see her take no further part of the game, with NTU veteran Campbell harshly assessed an unsportsmanlike foul. Without one of their most important players for the final eight minutes of the game, Ipswich rallied behind captain Welham with critical defensive contributions late on from Taylor-Willis, Pearson and Charlotte Redhead, while Harwood-Bellis continued her outstanding performance off the bench. Instead of being thrown off by the absence of Esther, Ipswich stretched their ten-point lead to as many as 19 before Ashton threatened to create a tense ending by hitting two straight three-pointers. The visitors held on comfortably though, closing out another important victory on the road. “I thought we were excellent today,” said Ipswich head coach Nick Drane. “We knew Nottingham were a powerful, high scoring team with some very dangerous players. I thought we did a good job of limiting their opportunities to score in transition and we dominated the rebounds, which were two key areas for us. But we still gave up too many three’s, allowing them to stay in the game. “That being said, the girls were great today. We emphasised that we are representing the whole club more than ever at the moment, and we wanted to get the win, not only for ourselves but for the rest of the club who have so sadly had basketball taken away now until the new year.” Taylor-Willis finished with a game-high 28 points on an impressive 68% shooting. Welham landed her first triple-double of the campaign with 25 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, while Little registered 17 points and 23 rebounds in less than 30 minutes of playing time. Harwood-Bellis added 16 points from the bench. Ashton finished with 19 points for NTU and Dekker 17, while Isabel Bueriberi added a 13-point, 12-rebound double-double. Ipswich continue their road trip next weekend with a visit to City of London Academy.



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