WNBL Division One
Bristol Flyers 70 – Ipswich Basketball 67
SGS Wise Campus
WNBL Division One
Ipswich Basketball 86 – Loughborough Riders 90
Copleston Sports Centre
It was a heart-breaking 24 hours for the Senior Women, who lost both games of a gruelling double header weekend, leaving their hopes of a home draw for the playoffs now heavily reliant on other teams dropping games.
On Saturday the team travelled to Bristol looking to avenge the loss inflicted by the 2019 league champions just three weeks earlier – however, it was not to be as not once, but twice, Ipswich had to battle back from a double figure deficit… coming back from fourteen points down with five minutes to play, Ipswich rallied behind a barrage of three-point shots from Cameron Taylor-Willis and Olivia Forster only to come up just three points short. Bristol are a team in a rich vein of form at just the right time, and will likely be a team feeling good going into the post season. Their record suggests that they will be a lower seed, having already lost eleven games, but they have proven that they are capable of beating some of the top teams in the league with wins against Thames Valley and doing the double over Ipswich.
Ipswich were led by 21 points from Forster, who was helped with twelve points from Saruna Gudza and eleven from captain, Taylor-Willis as Bristol clinched a vital 70-67 victory.
Less than twenty-four hours later, Ipswich hosted second placed Loughborough, who have been on fire since Christmas. The Riders came into the game with a 12-3 record, having a chance at winning the league championship should CoLA drop a game before the two sides meet on the final day of the season. The Riders and Ipswich are the two best three-point shooting teams in the league, and the game did not disappoint with the two sides combining for 27 long range efforts. However, it was Loughborough who looked to be in complete control, taking a sixteen-point lead into the half time break, and extending that lead to twenty-three mid-way through the third period, before seeing Ipswich claw it back to fifteen going into the final period. However, it was the fourth quarter that saw what was looking like a forgone conclusion suddenly turn into the most exciting ten minutes of the season.
With both teams trading three-point shots, (Alice Fallon and Ava Battese both getting hot for Ipswich), the lead remained at fifteen with less than three minutes to play, when Ipswich suddenly found a way to stop Loughborough, who at the same time seemed to panic – Ipswich went on a incredible run, getting steals and making shots to bring the Riders lead within two with twenty seconds to play. With Ipswich in possession, the stage was set for the most dramatic of finishes. However, Loughborough managed to find one key stop, allowing them to score in transition and cling on for a crucial, yet hard fought four-point win.
Ipswich were led by the sharp shooting Ava Battese (27), who connected on seven three-pointers, while Cameron Taylor-Willis added fourteen and Alice Fallon thirteen.
Ipswich’s record is now 10-6, which is still good for fifth place in the league. It would be fair to now assume that a top-two finish would be too much to ask of the Suffolk side, but with so much basketball still to be played this season, the team can still potentially finish anywhere between third and eighth.
“I’m sure this was exciting for the spectators, but it’s been a long and very frustrating weekend for the team and staff. We keep finding ourselves in situations where we have to dig ourselves out of a hole and fight our way back into games. This team is not short of passion and will power, but with a little more concentration and execution we could have easily still been in the race for a top two finish. However, there is still so much basketball to be played, and with six games still to play, our goal is to finish as high up the table as possible, get a good seeding and have a real go at it in the playoffs” Said Ipswich Head Coach Nick Drane