Pride returned to action on Wednesday night in a rearranged fixture against Nottingham Wildcats, who had reached last weekend’s WBBL Trophy Final. Wildcats had taken the reverse fixture by a big margin, so this looked like being a tough game for Pride.

The visitors opened the scoring through a Simone Costa layup, but Pride’s Ella Doherty immediately hit back with a coast to coast drive off the inbounds. Doherty then hit a jumpshot to give Pride the lead, before an entertaining spell where the teams traded blows, basket for basket and at the midpoint of the 1st quarter, Nottingham held a narrow 14-13 lead. Rebecca Dwomoh stretched the lead to 3 points, but Pride captain Maud Ranger countered with her second 3 pointer of the period to tie the game up once again. Both teams added a further 2 points over the next 2 minutes, as the scoring slowed for the first time in the game, but it was Wildcats who finished the period strongest, as American guard Chelsey Shumpart hit two driving layups in the final 40 seconds to give Nottingham a 22-18 lead at the quarter break.

Wildcats quickly extended their run to 8-0 at the start of the 2nd quarter through Costa and GB international Siobhan Prior, before a well executed offense by Pride saw Pollyanna Storie find a cutting Rose Harvey for an open layup. But Nottingham were looking to establish superiority and extended their lead to 10 points with just 65 seconds of Q2 played. Pride hit back through Doherty, Storie and Ranger, but Nottingham were continuing to score consistently at the other end and just past the 6 minute mark in the period, they took their biggest lead of the game at 43-26.

Pride needed to respond to stay within touching distance at the half, and that was what they did, as a Pollyanna Storie layup was followed by an and-1 play by Sian Phillips, before Storie hit a long 2 to bring Pride back within 10. And that was to be the gap at the interval, as the final 2:30 of the half saw the teams trading scores as the score moved on to 47-37 in favour of Wildcats.

The 3rd quarter started with Nottingham showing zone defence, to which Pride reacted very quickly, finding sharpshooter Maud Ranger for an uncontested 3 pointer. Sian Phillips then made 1 of 2 free-throws to get Pride within 6 points, but a 9-2 run for Wildcats saw them build that lead back to 12 with 6 minutes remaining in the 3rd. Pride responded as Elise Tweedie converted a well executed pick and roll play, before Sian Phillips added a layup to make the score 51-43. This pattern was to continue for the rest of the quarter, as Nottingham restored their double-digit lead, before Pride cut back into it. Simone Costa made the lead 14 with less than 30 seconds remaining in Q3, but a jump shot from Pollyanna Storie saw the teams go into the final period with the score 71-59 to Nottingham.

Pride sensed an opportunity against one of the traditional WBBL powerhouses and came out firing to start the 4th quarter, going on a 7-0 run through an Ella Doherty drive and jump shots by Maud Ranger from 2 and 3 point range to cut the deficit to just 5 points. However the experienced Wildcats side responded even more strongly, as an 11-0 run saw them pull away once again. Sian Phillips scored layups on consecutive possession for Pride to get them back within 12 points with less than 4 minutes to play, but that was to be as close as Pride got and Nottingham once again extended their lead in the closing minutes, taking the road win 92-75

The game marked a significant milestone for Pride’s 17 year old guard Ella Doherty as she marked her 50th appearance for the team in the WBBL with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Sian Phillips was once again the star performer for Pride with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists, with captain Maud Ranger also having a customary strong game, notching up 17 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists.

Chelsey Shumpart led all scorers with 26 points for Wildcats, European duo Simone Costa and Moa Lundqvist adding 20 and 18 respectively.

Pride coach John Day said: “It was a physical game in the key and we didn’t match the physicality of wildcats which gave them easy post ups and offensive rebounds. We will continue to grow as a team and improve things we need to improve to take us to next level.”

Next up for Pride is a tough road trip to face high flying London Lions on Sunday 28th March.

Photographs courtesy of Donald Stewart