Pride suffered a tough loss to Manchester on Sunday, 59-67, as Mystics showed their strength and depth in the fourth to steal the game in the final minutes.

Stella Fouraki (14 points, 16 rebounds) opened Pride’s account two and a half minutes into the game after Mystics’ Georgia Jones (23 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists) and Sara Djassi (12 points, 6 rebounds) started strong for the opposition. Fouraki continued to dominate whilst Brooke Bailey (12 points, 4 assists, 3 steals) drove into the key to score quick fire lay ups, giving Pride a three-point lead.

Hansine Marshall kept Pride’s momentum going as she made a big three-pointer halfway through the first. Pollyanna Storie (7 rebounds) came onto the floor and made an immediate impact as she nailed a jump shot to extend Pride’s lead. Hannah Robb went on a five-point run to end the first as she drained a three-pointer with seven seconds left in the quarter, putting Pride up by nine. 20-11.

Ella Doherty used her quick pace to score six seconds into the second quarter. Mystics replied with a six-point run, including five points from Rheanne Bailey (14 points, 10 rebounds.) Robb nailed another clutch three-pointer to bring Pride’s lead briefly back to eight before Manchester’s Dominique Allen (14 points, 8 rebounds) and Jones slashed the deficit to two. Composed free throws from Fouraki and an additional jump shot from Sian Phillips (8 rebounds) kept Pride in the lead.

As the half drew closer, Fouraki began to light up once again before Mystics’ Djassi and Rheanne Bailey cut the deficit back to four. This prompted a response from Brooke Bailey, finding the basket from behind the arc before adding a driving lay up to give Pride a five-point lead going into the second half. 38-33.

Brooke Bailey continued to impress with consistent driving lay ups. 16-year-old Rose Harvey saw the floor in this period and was quick to show off her shooting skills as she made a big three-pointer just 14 seconds after being subbed in. Phillips added a lay up, giving Pride a nine-point lead.

Manchester’s captain Jones was able to regain her composure and hit a three-pointer. Eabha Kerr was subbed into the game and was almost immediately fouled by Rheanne Bailey. Kerr was composed from the free throw line as she made both, extending Pride’s lead to 11, their biggest lead of the game. Fast paced offences from Jones cut the lead back down to seven but Pride’s accuracy from the line continued as Storie also made two from two. Doherty ended the quarter on a high for Pride as she scored with one second left on the clock. 56-47.

Pride’s rhythm continued briefly in the fourth as Doherty drained a three-pointer just over a minute into the period. Allan and Rheanne Bailey began to gather momentum for Mystics as they scored jump shots and lay ups.

Pride maintained a four-point lead in to the final five minutes but back-to-back three-pointers from Rheanne Bailey and Jones gave Mystics a two-point lead. Allen and Djassi forged ahead to extend the lead to six. Captain Jones was fouled by Storie and the Great Britain guard was composed from the line, making both to give Mystics the eight-point victory. 59-67.

Head Coach Bart Sengers was pleased about the good spells his team had throughout the game and was happy to see the younger players in the squad all contributing to the score:

“It was a tough loss, it’s a game we could’ve won. We had some really good spells and some really poor spells, unfortunately the poorer spell was at the end and it resulted in a 3-20 fourth quarter and it lost us the game as we couldn’t turn it around. However, it was good for us to be in this game for so long.

I thought we started with great energy, moved the ball well, played good offence and the timing and spacing of our offence was good. 

The most pleasing part for me was seeing our younger players all contributing to the score. They all played well together. That’s what we do this programme for, we try and build up and get these younger players these opportunities and they grab them and do well.

We expected the starters to come back in during the fourth and finish it and we couldn’t get it done together.”