Caledonia Pride suffered a narrow 73-65 loss to Oaklands Wolves on Saturday in a game that went down to the wire at Oaklands College.
Oaklands came out of the gate all guns blazing as Dorka Boros and Elyse Kiploks started off Wolves’ run only for Stella Fouraki to reply with a layup. The opposition continued to apply the pressure with back-to-back three-pointers from Claire Abbott and Lizzy Harrison.
Pride picked up the pace late in the first, going on a 9-point scoring streak. Buckets from Fouraki, Ella Doherty, Hansine Marshall and a free throw from Brooke Bailey (15 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals) meant Pride trailed by three going into the second. 14-11.
Wolves’ top scorer, German international Anneke Schluter (30 points), made her presence felt early in the period as she nailed a big three-pointer to give Oaklands a five-point lead. Pride responded as Bailey made an and-one after being fouled by Lauren Milligan. Pride maintained an offensive flow as Hannah Robb (16 points, 6 steals) knocked down a three-pointer, reducing the deficit to one.
The back-and-forth affair continued as costly fouls on both ends resulted in consistent free throws. Pride’s Robb and Pollyanna Storie (10 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists), in addition to Wolves’ Kata Fulop and Schulter, were all successful from the charity stripe. Robb and Schluter also traded shots from behind the arc, meaning both teams dropped 20 points in the quarter. 34-31.
Schluter persisted to assert her dominance by knocking down four consecutive shots early in the third. Sian Phillips (9 points, 5 rebounds), Fouraki, Robb and Storie all contributed to combatting the offensive onslaught by keeping Pride within six points.
Clutch shots from Robb and Storie, with additional composed free throws from Bailey and Fouraki, helped Pride cut the deficit back to three with ten minutes to play, despite Schluter constantly being a threat from the three-point line. 55-52.
Storie nailed a jump shot 13 seconds into the fourth, bringing Pride to within a basket of the lead. Three-pointers were traded by Wolves’ Kiploks and Pride’s Bailey. Fouls from Doherty, Marshall and Robb sent Oaklands’ players to the line where they shot 50% each time. Quick responses from Bailey cut Pride’s deficit back to one, meaning it was all to play for in the final five minutes.
Schulter forged Oaklands ahead, nailing four free throws after being fouled twice by Marshall. The imposing German scored a layup to seal the deal for the opposition despite Phillips’ best offensive efforts in the closing minutes. 73-65.