The Pride team made the relatively short trip to Newcastle in the second game of a busy weekend on Sunday. The Eagles team awaiting them had found a good run of form since their 5 point loss in Edinburgh just a few weeks ago, so a tough match for Pride was assured.
Eagles opened the scoring through a 2 point jump-shot by star American Alison Gorrell, but Pride answered straight back through a long 3 at the end of the shot-clock by Rose Harvey. But Eagles were the team playing with the higher intensity in the early stages and went on a 7-0 run before Harvey once again hit back with a 3 pointer. This pattern continued, with two further scoring runs by Eagles being countered by a pair of 3s from Maud Ranger, as Pride struggled to get anything going close to the basket. Pride’s first close range score came through a layup by Pollyanna Storie with just under 3 minutes to play in the quarter, before Ranger’s third and fourth 3 pointers of the period brough Pride within 5 points, with the score 24-21. But a late score by Eagles opened their lead back up to 5 at the end of the quarter, with the score 26-21.
The 2nd period started with Eagles coming out firing, as they went on a 6-0 scoring run in the first minute of the quarter before Pride answered through yet another 3 pointer and a mid-range jump-shot by Rose Harvey, who was showing impressive confidence on the offensive end. However Pride were struggling to contain Eagles’ former GB youth international Abby Lowe, who was scoring in a range of ways. Elise Tweedie stepped up for Pride in the post and started to get some close range scores to counter the scoring of Lowe, before a pair of 3s from Harvey and Storie got Pride back within 5 points with 4:33 to play in the half.
A scrappy 2 minute spell followed where neither team scored bucked the trend in this high scoring half, but this was broken by another post score from Elise Tweedie as Pride continued to show their desire to stay in the game. Eagles came back with a short jump-shot by Spanish centre Deborah Rodriguez-Perez, which Pride responded to with another Maud Ranger 3 pointer, cutting the home side’s lead to just 2 points. The final 2 minutes saw just one more score for each team, as 3 pointers from Lowe for Newcastle and Ranger for Pride saw the teams go into the half with the score 46-44.
Pride were determined to impose themselves more on a game where their 3 point shooting had kept them in touch despite a lack their customary fast-breaks. Ranger opened the 2nd half scoring with a mid-range jump shot to tie the game, but Eagles came right back with two mid-range shots of their own from Maddie McVicar and Alison Gorrell. The game continued to go back and forth through the first 7 minutes of the quarter, with Eagles staying in front but Pride ensuring that the gap got no bigger than 6 points. However, after a 3 pointer from Rose Harvey cut the Eagles lead to 3, Newcastle went on a 9-0 run to end the 3rd quarter, with the score 65-53.
Rodriquez-Perez extended the Eagles scoring run to 11 points on the opening play of Q4, before yet another 3 from Rose Harvey showed some resistance from Pride. However that was not to last, as Eagle launched another strong scoring run, whilst their defence shut Pride down for the next 8 minutes of the period. An injury to Pride’s Pollyanna Storie saw her day come to an end, as a the experienced Newcastle side took advantage of fatigued looking Pride team and a 19-0 run ended the game as a contest and ensured Eagles took the head-to-head for the season. A layup by Eabha Kerr for Pride ended the Eagles run with 90 seconds to play and turned out to be the final score of the game, with the result 86-58 in favour of Eagles.
Top performer for Pride on the day was 17 year old Rose Harvey, who scored a career high 20 points, including 6-10 from 3 point range, and added 3 assists. Pride captain Maud Ranger also finished with 20 points, on 6-13 shooting from beyond the arc, and added 5 rebounds. Elise Tweedie also had the best day of her career so far, scoring 10 points for the first time in her debut season.
Eagles were led by their captain Alison Gorrell, who had the incredible stat line of 30 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists. Abigail Lowe added 17 points and Maddie McVicar 15 for Newcastle, as they made it 3 wins in a row and boosted their playoff hopes.
After the game, Pride coach Donnie MacDonald reflected on a difficult day, saying: “When I looked at the scoreboard at halftime, I really couldn’t believe we were only down 2 points, because we really hadn’t played very well. Rose and Maud kept us in the game with their shooting, but we really fell off a cliff with our scoring from late in the 3rd quarter and the fatigue of playing a second game of the weekend was evident.”
He continued: “Other than the first 3 minutes or so of the game, I really couldn’t fault the effort of our players today. But we lacked discipline on the defensive end and made too many ill advised passes that Eagles turned into breakaways. Once again, we need to learn from this, because for a long part of this game we were right in it, but Eagles really made us pay late on when we didn’t execute the details properly on both ends of the floor.”
Next up for Pride is the visit of Durham Palatinates to the Crags Centre in Edinburgh on Sunday 23rd March, in a game which could turn out to be crucial in the final league standings.