Caledonia Pride travelled to Nottingham on Sunday for their third away game in a row, where they faced off against a Wildcats team that was fresh off a big win against Manchester Met Mystics one day earlier.
Pride opened the scoring on a pull-up jump shot by Maud Ranger before Wildcats answered, as the early exchanges went back and forth. But Nottingham quickly found their flow and a 12-0 run gave them an early lead of 14-3, as the experience of Jasmine Joyner, Chelsey Shumpart and Moa Lundquist for Wildcats shone through.
But as the 1st quarter went on, layups from Ella Doherty and Elise Tweedie, along with a 3 pointer by Ranger kept Pride within touching distance of Wildcats, with the score 21-12 at the end of the period.
The 2nd quarter opened with a 6-0 run by Wildcats, before Maud Ranger answered back with 3s on consecutive possessions for Pride. Scores by Sian Phillips answered scores by Nottingham to keep the gap at 9 points at the midpoint of the period, before a 10-0 run by Wildcats opened up daylight on the scoreboard. That 19 point advantage was maintained until the half, where the teams went into the break with the score 47-28.
As the second half started, it was once again Nottingham who were on top, as reigning WBBL MVP Jasmine Joyner scored the opening 7 points of the period before Ella Doherty eventually answered with a 3 pointer. A further 8 points by Ranger, including two more 3s, and a driving layup from Eabha Kerr kept the scoreboard moving for Pride, but Wildcats were continuing to pull away and finished the 3rd quarter with a commanding 70-41 lead.
The final quarter proved to be the most difficult of the game for Pride, as Wildcats took advantage of a number of turnovers and Tia Freeman continuously attacked and got to the free-throw line. One highlight of the period was Sophie Leslie scoring her first points for Pride, putting back an offensive rebound through contact. The game finished with a score of 96-50 for Wildcats, as they continued their push to be amongst the top teams in the WBBL.
Top performer for Pride on the day was Maud Ranger who scored 28 points, including a Pride record seven 3 pointers, and 10 rebounds. Sian Phillips added 7 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in a typically all-action display.
For the hosts, star Americans Jasmine Joyner and Chelsey Shumpart scored 25 and 24 respectively in extremely efficient performances, whilst Swedish forward Moa Lundquist added 19 and 9 rebounds.
Pride captain Maud Ranger spoke to Wildcats commentator Michael Hanson-Morris, saying: “Obviously its not the outcome we wanted, but we’re all about how much better can we get every game and every practice.”
Asked about her seven 3 pointers, Maud continued: “Those 3 pointers don’t happen if my teammates don’t get me open, so its just really nice to see us flow.”
Also speaking to Wildcats after the game, coach Donnie MacDonald said: “There were a number of things that we improved on from last week, but we’re still lacking consistency in executing a lot of the details we’ve been working on in practice.”
Questioned about Pride’s offense, MacDonald continued: “We’re a young team and learning half-court offense is one of the most difficult things to do, but we’ve just got to continue to work and work and work. So we’ve just got to get a bit smarter and week by week we’re just looking to execute a bit better with less shortcuts and a better understanding of what’s going on around us.”
Photo credit: Ashleigh Davies Photography