Leicester ease out Rebels in away Cup Semi Final
The Essex Rebels finished their packed weekend with a trip to Leicester Riders in their first ever Cup Semi-Final. The game started out tightly contested, but it was the Riders who had fresher legs on the day, having rescheduled their Saturday game, and held on to win.
The Rebels got off to a quick start with a corner jump shot from Ashleigh Munns, and 3-pointers from Sune Swart and Tia Freeman. However, the Riders had answers of their own, with the teams tied at 8 a piece with 5 minutes remaining before a Daniella Turner bank shot and an Andrea Kohlhaas 3 gave the Rebels a five point lead. Claire Paxton shortly joined the Rebels scoring with an and-1, but O’dwyer from the Riders hit two 3-pointers back-to-back to counter, levelling up the score. The Rebels then lost their footing after a few missed lay-up opportunities and poor turnovers, with the Riders capitalising on their opponents mistakes, ending the quarter up by 8 (24-16). A 3-pointer by Claire Paxton to start the second quarter was sadly followed by a second foul called on Sune Swart, sending the Rebels inside presence to the bench with 9 and a half minutes remaining in the half. It was then a scoring run by Claire Paxton that helped keep the Rebels close, with a pull up jump shot and 3-pointer, followed by a tough finish by Cameron Taylor-Willis that brought the Rebels back to a tie game. Just as in the first quarter, the Rebels then cooled off, missing a few lay-ups and turning the ball over, which allowed the Riders to regain an 8 point lead. Fortunately, with 2 minutes remaining, the Rebels turned up the defensive pressure and hit some shots of their own to keep the game close heading into half-time, with a score of 39-37 to the Riders.
The Riders took no time in getting the half started with two quick buckets, before Claire Paxton hit her third 3-pointer of the game and Ashleigh Munns hit a pull up jump shot, to bring the game within one. However, it was then all Leicester Riders, as the refs appeared to zone in on Sune Swart calling her for her third and fourth fouls within 3 minutes for questionable moving screens calls. A much needed 3 from Andrea Kohlhaas helped spark the Rebels, with a lay-up from Daniella Turner quickly following. A moment of déjà vu then occurred as another 3-pointer from Kohlhaas and lay-up from Turner brought the Rebels to within two points entering the final ten minutes. The Rebels defence forced two 24-second shot clock violations to start the fourth quarter, but an unsportsmanlike foul on the Rebels allowed the Riders to gain some breathing room with 7 minutes remaining. As time continued to come off the clock, the Rebels began to play tight, turning the ball over on multiple possessions and letting the Riders gain their biggest lead of the game at 14 points, which was the final deficit when the buzzer sounded, 83-69.
Head Coach Tom Sadler had this to say after the game, “We got off to great starts in the first two quarters, and battled in the third, but the fourth quarter just looked like we were a completely different team. I don’t know if we got tired or nervous, but we were sloppy with the ball and gave up a lot of open shots on the defensive end. Against a team like Leicester you just can’t give them opportunities off of your own mistakes. Of course we are disappointed with the result, but going into the break we have to remain positive because there is a lot of basketball left to play. We’re sixth in the league and have played four of the top five teams, with really close results coming against Caledonia, Sevenoaks, and Sheffield. I hope the team get some much need rest and we will look to hit the ground running in the New Year”.
Top Performers –
*Claire Paxton – 19 points, 8 rebounds
*Andrea Kohlhaas – 14 points, 2 steals
*Daniella Turner – 10 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
*Tia Freeman – 10 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
*H. Robb – 17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals
*E. Fee – 15 points, 4 rebounds
*A. Arlen – 14 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists
*F. O’dwyer – 11 points