WNBL Division One
Ipswich 77 – Reading Rockets 53
Copleston Sports Centre
After an enforced three week break because Basketball England unnecessarily made the club to move last weekends fixture with Loughborough, you could have forgiven Ipswich for showing signs of rust, but it was quite the opposite as the team came out all guns blazing as Ipswich moved to 5-1 in WNBL Division One with a 77-53 win over Reading Rockets.
Ava Battese set a new club record with an incredible eleven made three-pointers on her way to a season high 41 points, leading an efficient team performance that allowed Coach Nick Drane to rotate his young squad, handing a debut to Olivia Manning and welcoming back Hannah Gray after more than two months out injured.
Ipswich won all four quarters and looked comfortable against a very talented Rockets side who have suffered a number of injuries themselves to start the season.
Battese’s shooting masterclass will rank as one of the most breath-taking individual performances the club has seen, especially when a season high of fifteen rebounds are added to her remarkable stat line. However, it was a total team effort that enabled the American guard to blossom. Captain Cameron Taylor-Willis was again in fine form with a 15 point/15 rebound double-double. Elsewhere, Chanel Michaels enjoyed her best performance of the season while starters Yassin Belle-Mbaye, Saruna Gudza and Olivia Forster all made solid contributions.
As Battese continued to blow up the scoreboard, Coach Drane was able to use those players travelling to Reading for u18 Cup Final on Sunday sparingly, as the likes of Abbie Yorke, Alice Fallon and Christabel Osarobo will be needed as Ipswich attempt to reach another National Cup Final.
“I try to not single individual players out when commenting on the teams performance, as nobody ever won a game by themselves. However, I don’t think many of us have even seen a player shoot the ball like that before. Ava hasn’t been 100% since she joined us, and it looks like a couple of weeks off has given her an extra gear - which is fantastic for both her as an individual and us as a team. Now we need her to do that every week!” Said Ipswich Head Coach Nick Drane.
Ipswich travel to Anglia Ruskin (4-2) next Saturday as they round off a quite remarkable 2021. The Christmas standings will give a good indication of what the team can achieve for the rest of the season.
Ava Battese: 41
Cameron Taylor-Willis: 15
Saruna Gudza: 7