Essex Rebels victorious over Leicester Riders
The Essex Rebels took to the road once more this past Sunday taking on the Leicester Riders, after a short break in the week caused the team to postpone their mid-week clash with London Lions due to covid protocols. The Rebels were looking to maintain their play-off position in the league table as the Riders looked to keep their top four position. After an intense 40 minutes back and forth, the Rebels captured a victory 84-80.
The Riders used a strong first four minutes of the game to pull ahead 13-2, as the Rebels struggled to get their shots to drop and handle the full-court pressure from the home team. However, the Rebels scoring woes faded quickly, as they knocked down 4 quick 3 pointers, to bring the Rider’s lead to within 1 point with one minute remaining. A trip to the foul line and a pull up 2 however, allowed the Riders to enter the second quarter up 30-25. Foul trouble took the wind out of the Riders sails, as Essex capitalised on their own mini-run to take a 4 point lead with six minutes left in the half. The Riders answered shortly after, scoring their first basket of the quarter at the five minute mark, but Ashleigh Munns had a quick 3 to respond and a nice finger roll from Claire Paxton followed shortly after. The Riders benefitted from a substitution to get Hannah Robb on the floor, as she score 8 quick points and helped her team enter half-time down 3 to the Rebels.
The second half opened with a battle in the post, as both teams went back and forth scoring in the paint. The Riders took advantage of sloppy play from the Rebels to outscore them 16-14 in the quarter and enter the final minute down by one point. A reverse lay-up by Lu Costa got scoring underway in the fourth, but a late whistle on the defensive end sent the Riders to the foul line to get back to a one point game. Another 3 from Ashleigh Munns and a put back lay-up from Lu Costa helped the Rebels take a 6 point lead under the five minute mark. With time ticking, Claire Paxton converted two foul shots, but a strong finish by Oceana Hamilton kept the margin at 6 points with two minutes to play and shifted momentum for the home team as they then scored two quick lay-ups to make it a two point game with one minute left. Fortunately for the Rebels, a deflected pass found its way to a wide open Ashleigh Munns in the corner who knocked down her sixth 3 pointer of the game. In response the Riders had to resort to fouling in an attempt to regain possession, but the Rebels were able to knock down just enough foul shots to seal the victory 84-80.
Head Coach Tom Sadler had this to say about his team’s performance, “Once we settled down in the first quarter we played some great basketball. When we are sharing the ball and attacking the rim hard, our offense flowed and we got great looks. I thought despite a tough third quarter we kept our composure, especially with the Riders always seeming to take advantage of our lapses and we had a few bad turnovers that kept the game close, but we never looked nervous. The fourth quarter felt the same, but we were able to convert on some of our foul shots at the end, enough to keep it a two possession game at least, and take a big win on the road. I said it before, when we limit our turnovers and win the rebounding battle we put ourselves in position to win, which is exactly what we did today.”
Top Performers Rebels:
Ashleigh Munns – 20 points
Claire Paxton – 20 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
Lu Costa – 15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists
Tia Freeman – 11 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists
Top Performers Riders:
Oceana Hamilton – 18 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists
Brooklyn Mcalear – 16 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
Makana Stone – 15 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists
Hannah Robb – 13 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists