Riders beat Lions to keep WBBL Championship title race alive; all eight play-off places now secured

WBBL Championship
Nottingham Wildcats 85-74 Newcastle Eagles (15-18, 41-26, 65-55, 85-74)
(Wildcats: S.Costa – 26, C.Shumpert – 24, M.Lundqvist – 12; Eagles: A.Gorrell – 21, A.Lowe – 19, M.McVicar – 19)

WBBL Championship
Manchester Met Mystics 69-51 Caledonia Pride (22-14, 41-20, 57-38, 69-51)
(Mystics: H.Naylor – 25, G.Jones – 16, N.Fong Lyew Quee – 6; Pride: P.Storie – 15, S.Phillips – 11, M.Ranger – 11)

WBBL Championship
Oaklands Wolves 54-74 Durham Palatinates (21-13, 32-43, 47-58, 54-74)
(Wolves: L.Harrison – 14, L.Milligan – 8, G.Uprus – 7; Palatinates: K.Elderkin – 23, C.Paxton – 19, G.Hurtado Barbeito – 12)

WBBL Championship
London Lions 80-84 Leicester Riders (22-14, 37-35, 56-58, 80-84)
(Lions: K.Leonard – 22, C.Breen – 16, S.Umeh – 16; Riders: H.Winterburn – 36, H.Robb – 13, A.Stewart – 13)

The Leicester Riders put the pressure back on the Sevenoaks Suns this afternoon, as they beat the London Lions to keep the WBBL Championship title race on, while all eight teams to compete in the play-offs have now been confirmed.

The Wildcats hosted the first game of the day, as they entertained the Newcastle Eagles, but it was the home team who ran out victorious, largely thanks to their dominant second quarter in which they outscored the visitors by 18 points.

Chelsey Shumpert dropped 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in one of two double-double performances from the Wildcats as Moa Lundqvist scored 12 and also grabbed 11 rebounds, while Simone Costa’s 26 points also was vital for her team.

Alison Gorrell led the Eagles in scoring as she so often has this season, scoring 21 points as well as contributing five rebounds and assists, while Maddy McVicar and Abigail Lowe dropped 19 each, but it was unfortunately for them just not enough as they returned back to Tyneside with another defeat on the standings.

Meanwhile in Manchester, Mystics forward Helen Naylor put in one of the performances of the whole day as she scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as well as making three assists in one steal despite coming off the bench, inspiring her team to a well-earned 18-point victory over Caledonia Pride.

The bench played a very important role on defence for the Mystics, as Vanessa Akra joined Naylor in reaching double figures for rebounds, while Georgia Jones was very effective on offence as she scored 16 points, drawing fouls on five different occasions.

Two huge double-doubles from Maud Ranger and Sian Phillips who scored 11 points each and grabbed 13 and 16 rebounds respectively was a very encouraging sign for the Pride, while Pollyanna Storie’s 15 points was impressive given she shot 71% from the field and nailed a couple three pointers in the process.

As the Mystics earned their victory, the Palatinates earned an impressive 20 point victory away to Oaklands Wolves, who thanks to the Pride losing, have secured a play-off place in May Madness.

Kara Elderkin led the bottom-placed team to a well-deserved victory, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in another double-double performance – something she has achieved on average throughout the season, while Claire Paxton also put in a dominating double-double performance as she dropped 19 points and contributed a huge 19 rebounds for her team.

The Wolves just about got double the amount of Paxton’s total of rebounds – a testament to her incredible performance, while they did struggle offensively as a team, shooting 29% from the field as Lizzy Harrison led the scoring for the Wolves with 14 points.

In the final game of the evening, the Riders came from behind to beat the Lions by four points, as Holly Winterburn put in a career-high performance of 36 points to spur her team on as they keep the pressure on the Suns at the top of the standings, who have been made to wait a little bit longer to win the title.

Winterburn also contributed six rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks in what was another one of the performances of the entire season, while Azania Stewart and Hannah Robb put up 13 points each to get the Riders back into the game after going behind early.

The Lions were lead by Kennedy Leonard, who was four rebounds away from a triple-double after scoring 22 points and providing ten assists for her teammates. Stephanie Umeh once again proved an effective option off the bench as she also put in a double-double performance, while Cassie Been and Shanice Beckford-Norton scored 30 points between them as the Lions fell just short.

Sevenoaks Suns just need a win tomorrow against Leicester Riders to reclaim their WBBL Championship title, or lose anything less than 13 points.