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Match Report: Women stay unbeaten in dramatic first home game of the season

Ipswich Basketball 97-89 Team Solent Kestrels

WNBL Division I

Copleston Sports Centre

In front of a personally invited, socially-distanced crowd of just under 40 spectators, Ipswich Basketball put on an offensive clinic to seal victory in their first home game for over nine months on Sunday afternoon.

One of the first elite sports events in England to be permitted to host spectators since the onset of Covid-19 in March, this game was sure to live long in the memories of Ipswich’s staff and players, for whom Copleston has so long been a fortress. But the display put on by both sides ensured those present will remember it warmly, too.

Both Ipswich and the visiting Kestrels started the game at a high offensive pace, with a 24-23 scoreline aptly reflecting just how close an affair the first quarter was. Ipswich would carve out a lead in the second, however, behind an excellent defensive effort and relentless offense led by captain Harriet Welham.

Welham had racked up 21 points by half time, with Ipswich setting their season high for first-half points en-route to a 54-42 half-time advantage.

Reigning MVP Harriet Welham led all scorers with 30 (Photo: Marvellous Visuals)

Solent, who suffered a late reversal against Anglia Ruskin University on Saturday, were in no mood to take a second defeat of the weekend and started well in the third quarter, but Danni Cazey came alive for Ipswich with 11 points in under three minutes to restore the hosts’ lead to double-digits.

From then on, Solent started to look increasingly comfortable on offense, and dominated the offensive rebound opportunities, adding to their momentum. The lead was chipped away in the early stages of the fourth quarter, until a Saffie Jarju lay-up brought the visitors within three points with two minutes to play.

As they have done previously this campaign, Ipswich responded well to the pressure. Cameron Taylor-Willis, Esther Little and Colleen Leung combined to make five of six free throws and another Welham lay-up bolstered Ipswich’s lead, while on the other end the home defense clamped down and Solent were held to one further score before time expired.