Caledonia Pride made the long trip south to take on Sevenoaks Suns at the Surrey Sports Park on Saturday looking to build on some recent strong performances. Their opponents couldn’t have come any tougher though, as Sevenoaks were looking to remain undefeated in the WBBL Championship.
Suns opened the scoring on the opening offense through a Renee Busch jump-shot and a minute later Pride got on the board as Ella Doherty pulled up to make it 2-2. The next few minutes of the quarter saw the defences on both sides being very effective and there were very few scores, as the game reached 3:00 to play with Sevenoaks leading 8-2. Sian Phillips then stepped up for Pride and scored 6 consecutive points around the basket to tie this low scoring quarter at 8. But a strong final minute of the quarter by Suns saw them go on a 8-0 run to finish the period with a 16-8 lead.
GB star Janice Monakana extended the Suns run to 11 points early in the 2nd quarter before it was once again Sian Phillips who found an answer for Pride, before Ella Doherty cut the lead back to 7 points. However every time Pride looked like they might bring the game close, Sevenoaks found a way to increase their lead back to double digits, most commonly through some excellent shooting from the perimeter. Pride, on the other hand, were creating plenty of good opportunities but were struggling to convert them into points on the scoreboard, as this game with very few stoppages sped towards the half. A score at the hoop by Pride’s Elise Tweedie brought the visitors within 10 late in the half, however Suns’ standout Cat Carr was to have the final say, adding 2 points before the break to make the score 33-21 to the home side.
In contrast to the slow start to the first half, both teams came out firing in the 3rd quarter as Phillips and Doherty were again the players with the scoring touch for Pride, as they countered scores from the Suns in the opening 75 seconds. Worryingly for Pride, Suns leader Cat Carr was starting to find her shooting touch after a quiet 1st half, but Pride were keeping in touch through scores by Pollyanna Storie and another from Ella Doherty as the midpoint of the quarter passed with Sevenoaks holding a 15 point lead. But Suns stepped it up a gear after this and went on a strong 9-0 run that gave them a commanding lead late in the quarter. Taryn Cummins stopped the run with a driving layup and another drive by Eabha Kerr stopped Suns pulling away any further, before Sian Phillips scored the final 2 of the period to cap the Sevenoaks lead at 22, with the score 59-37.
Any chance of a Pride comeback was quickly stamped out by the experienced Sevenoaks team early in the 4th, as an 8-0 run, including two late shot-clock 3 pointers from Carr, saw the Suns lead stretch to 30. Pride answered back with a 7-0 run of their own, through scores at the hoop by Phillips and Jenna Beattie and a Maud Ranger 3 pointer, however this was followed by a 4 minute spell where Pride were unable to add any more points on the board. Fortunately Suns’ scoring had also dried up somewhat, as they only added 4 points during this spell, meaning that when Ella Doherty ended the Pride drought with 1:47 to play, the Sevenoaks lead remained at 25 points. And this was to be the gap at the end, as a score by Elise Tweedie was answered with a layup by Suns as the game finished 73-48.
Pride’s top performer was Sian Phillips with 16 points and 7 rebounds, while Ella Doherty continued her recent run of form with 13 points.
Cat Carr led Sevenoaks with 22 points, including 19 in the 2nd half, along with 13 rebounds and 5 assists.
Pride coach Donnie MacDonald reflected on the performance after the game, saying: “We fell into the trap of playing at Sevenoaks’ pace today and that made it difficult for us to get any kind of momentum going in the game. I thought for 3 quarters we did a reasonable job of containing them, but we had a bad spell in the 3rd where we let them get too many easy shots. On the offensive end, I thought we got a lot of good looks that we just didn’t convert, so that’s an area that we need to be much more efficient in as we go into the last 5 games.”
The next game for Pride is at home, as former Pride captain Robyn Lewis and her Cardiff Met Archers team travel to the Crags Centre in Edinburgh on Saturday 17th April.