Hatters out rebound Rebels to secure win
The Essex Rebels faced the Sheffield Hatters this Saturday in a league clash taking place the day before their Cup Semi-Final against the Leicester Riders. The Rebels elected to play their Saturday match-up, unlike the Riders who postponed their Saturday game, leading to Essex implementing limited minutes for all players in an effort to be competitive in both games. Despite having a lead in the third quarter, the Rebels just couldn’t hold on and lost 78-70.
The first five minutes of the game were all Hatters who jumped out to an 8-0 lead over the Rebels before the home team were able to get on the board. A couple of baskets back and forth still resulted in the away team pulling ahead by 12 before a five for five substitution turned the tide. Andrea Kohlhaas got the scoring started by draining a 3-pointer, with Tia Freeman foul shots and a 3-pointer of her own, and then another Kohlhaas 3-pointer adding to the score line to end the quarter with the Rebels only trailing by 3 points. Within one minute of the second quarter Daniella Turner propelled the Rebels into the lead with a put back and-1 and then a drive down the lane. Offensive rebounding for the Hatters and 3-point shooting from WBBL veteran Helen Naylor kept Sheffield equal with the Rebels, as the home team was up by 2 points with 5 minutes remaining in the half. Sloppy play by both teams led to a quiet stretch before Sheffield hit their fifth 3-pointer of the game to cut the Rebels lead to 1. Good defence by the Rebels led to a Sune Swart fast break, but some questionable foul calls led to Sune having to take an early seat on the sidelines for the remainder of the half. The Rebels responded though, with another Andrea Kohlhaas 3-pointer and 6 points from Tia Freeman, to help lead the home team to a 26 point quarter and a 4 point lead heading into the half-time break.
The Second half started with 4 quick points from the Rebels, before a few missed lay-ups and turnovers over a 4-minute period led to a Hatters 3-pointer that reclaimed the lead for the visitors. With 50 seconds left in the quarter, two Ashleigh Munns’ free throws helped the Rebels go up by one, but a quick 3-pointer response from Sheffield gave the lead right back to the Hatters. On a drive by the Rebels, which was clearly blocked out-of-bounds by the Hatters, the refs awarded the away team the ball which led to a last second shot from just over half-court that went in and helped the visitors to a 3-point lead heading into the final 10 minutes.
Megan Haines came out quick with a drive to the basket for the Rebels, but the Hatters were able to respond with 3 lay-ups of their own, going up by 5 with 8 minutes remaining to play. A loss of intensity on both ends for the Rebels continued to allow the Hatters lead to grow and despite some substitutions allowing the Rebels to go on a small run, with Alexa Naessens and Sune Swart making tough inside finishes, a further questionable fifth foul call on Sune ended her time on the court. Without that inside presence, the Hatters ended up scoring 46 points in the paint, and out rebounded the Rebels by over 20, two stats incredibly hard to overcome and win a game. The final few minutes of play left the Hatters looking comfortable and the Rebels scrambling, leading to a victory for the visitors with a final score of 78-70.
After the game Head Coach Tom Sadler had this to say, “As per usual, there were moments throughout the game where we looked really good on both ends, especially when we were able to move the ball and communicate with each other on the defensive end. But there were also moments where we were sloppy with the ball and our help coverage was poor, especially in the second half. We had to be strategic with our minutes today, considering the Cup semi-final game tomorrow, but the team embraced what we were doing and put together a competitive game where we were in a position to win. Hopefully we can lock in for tomorrow’s game, especially focusing on not turning the ball over and boxing out, and come out with our first WBBL final appearance.”
*Daniella Turner – 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals
*Tia Freeman – 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals
*Andrea Kohlhaas – 12 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals
*K. Murphy – 18 points, 17 rebounds, 4 assists
*H. Naylor – 18 points
*N. Fairley – 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists