Pride welcomed Manchester Met Mystics to the Crags Centre in Edinburgh on Saturday for the second time this season, having previously met in the WBBL Trophy back in February. With Mystics having dominated the first encounter to win 90-64, Pride went into the game hoping to make the league fixture a much more competitive affair.

After Pride missed the opening shot of the game, Manchester were first on the scoreboard on the next possession, as GB international Hannah Shaw made a strong post move for a layup, before she then added 2 free-throws on Mystics’ next offense to give the Manchester side a 4-0 lead. But Pride answered straight back, with Pollyanna Storie making a midrange jump shot before following it up with 1 of 2 free-throws. Maud Ranger then hit a consecutive short jumpers to move Pride into the lead at 7-4 after 4 minutes of play. After the teams traded scores, Mystics then went on what was to be the biggest scoring run of the game, as 9 unanswered points moved them to a 15-9 lead, but Sian Phillips then went on an individual 6-0 run, and Maud Ranger added 2 free-throws, as Pride regained the lead in what was proving to be a seesaw game. GB point guard then Georgia Jones hit a 3 pointer, which was countered by a layup by Elise Tweedie for Pride, however Mystics finished Q1 strong, as a 3 point play by former Olympian Dominique Allen gave Manchester a 21-19 lead at the first break.

Allen opened the scoring in the 2nd quarter to stretch the Mystics lead, before Pride came straight back and hit a 3 through Taryn Cummins. Manchester followed this with a 6-0 run, but Pride were showing fight and tied the game once again with a 7-0 run of their own through 2s by Sian Phillips and Ella Doherty, and a 3 by Ranger. Pride then took a 31-30 lead, after a Phillips layup countered a Mystics free-throw. There were further lead changes in the following possessions, as points by Mystics were responded to by a Rose Harvey corner 3, but it was the inside presence and experience of Shaw and Allen who had the final words of the half, as they moved Manchester back in front 39-36 at the interval.

After a fast-paced, up and down 1st half, the 2nd started in very different fashion, as Mystics effectively controlled the tempo of the game, but both teams struggled to get going offensively, as the score remained unchanged through the first 3 minutes of Q3. The first points of the half came through a rare 4 point play by Georgia Jones, before another 2 minute spell with neither team scoring followed and, again, Jones ended that run with a layup to give Mystics a 9 point lead. Pride finally got on the scoreboard in the 3rd with 4:38 left on the clock, as Jenna Beattie knocked down the first of two 3 pointers, as Pride looked to get back in touch. Foul trouble for Pride allowed Mystics to get to the free-throw line and build an 8 point lead with 1 minute remaining in the quarter, but Pride finished the period strongly with layups from Storie and Doherty, before another 3 pointer by Taryn Cummins got Pride back within 3 at break with the score 53-50.

With it all to play for in the final period, the tension was palpable in the Crags Centre, but the experienced Rheanne Bailey scored on either side of a Sian Phillips layup to give Mystics a 6 point advantage. A free-throw by Eabha Kerr and an Ella Dohery 3 pointer once again made it a one possession game, but every time Pride got close, the experienced Mystics team found an answer, and a 6-0 run moved the score to 64-56 with 3:30 left to play in the game. However Pride weren’t giving up, and went on an 8-0 run to tie the game, as Eabha Kerr scored a layup, Maud Ranger made a technical free-throw and Ella Doherty hit a 3 and a layup to set up an exciting final 2 minutes of action. Nerves were on show for both teams now however, and both teams missed shots to take the lead. But the crucial moment came with 45 seconds to go, as another Mystics GB senior international Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee stole a pass as Pride looked to get into the paint and broke the length of the court to score a contested layup and give Mystics the lead. Neither team was able to add to the scoring after this and Mystics took the win 66-64.

Top scorer for Pride was Ella Doherty with 14 points, with both Sian Phillips and Maud Ranger adding double-doubles – Phillips finishing with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists, and Ranger 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The game’s top scorer was Mystics’ Hannah Shaw with 18 points, 16 of those coming in the 1st half, and Georgia Jones contributed 16 points.

In her second game after returning to action, Pride club captain Jenna Beattie commented after the game: “Today we were the team we strive to be – we played hard and for each other. Naturally it’s frustrating to not quite get the win but it was a fun game and gave us a foundation to continue to build on.”

Pride coach Donnie MacDonald shared Beattie’s optimism, saying: “Its obviously disappointing to lose such a close game and right now it feels like a missed opportunity, but we have to take the positives out of a much improved performance by the team. All credit to the players, this past week they have really refocused themselves and today they did a great job of holding each other to our standards and of encouraging each other. Hopefully we can continue to build on this in our remaining games now.”

The next game for Pride is on Wednesday 7th April, as they welcome high flying London Lions at the Crags Centre in Edinburgh.

Photos courtesy of Donald Stewart.