Caledonia Pride faced off against Manchester Mystics in Edinburgh on Wednesday night in the first round of the WBBL Trophy. With both teams having had similar results against Nottingham Wildcats at the weekend, it looked like being a competitive encounter.
Mystics started the game quickly, scoring the first 5 points of the game before Sian Phillips got Pride on the board 95 seconds into the period. Manchester countered and extended their lead to 6 points, before two 3 pointers from Maud Ranger brought Pride close and scores from Rose Harvey and Eabha Kerr gave Pride their first lead of the game. However Mystics then began to take control through scores by GB stars Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee, Hannah Shaw and Georgia Jones, moving Manchester into a 24-20 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.
The 2nd period started evenly, with a layup from Mystics’ Rosie Hynes being answered by a Maela Faleu 3 pointer for Pride. However, this was followed by a 7-0 run for Manchester over the next 3 minutes, as the visitors stretched their lead into double digits. Elise Tweedie stopped the run, with a pick and roll layup for Pride before Sian Phillips finished a spectacular spin move through contact as Pride looked to get back into the game.
Both teams traded scores through Q2, before free-throws by Ranger and a 3 from Harvey got Pride back to within 5 points with 2 minutes to play in the half. But 6 unanswered points from Mystics’ Sofia Song rebuilt the Manchester double digit lead which they were to hold onto into the halftime break, with the score 50-38.
The 3rd quarter started with another even 2 minutes, as Maud Ranger and Ella Doherty traded scores with Manchester. But Mystics then stamped their authority on the game with a 12-0 run that gave them a 22 point lead at the midpoint of the quarter before Sian Phillips ended their streak with an and-1 play. This sparked a good spell for Pride, as they got multiple stops on the defensive end and more scores from Phillips, Eabha Kerr and Sophie Loughran began to cut into the Mystics lead and the period came to a close with the score 69-53.
Pride went into the final quarter hoping to continue their positive spell and get back into the game, but it was the visitors who came out the stronger with an 11-0 run that essentially secured the game for Manchester. A 3 pointer from Ella Doherty ended the Mystics run before another series of scores by Manchester gave them the biggest lead of the game at 30 points. The young Pride side continued to battle to the end of the game however, and a pair of 3s by Rose Harvey in the final minutes cut into the lead, but it was Manchester Mystics who took the 90-64 win and progressed to the next round of the WBBL Trophy.
Top performer for Pride on the night was Sian Phillips, who had the remarkable stat line of 17 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 blocks and 3 steals. Rose Harvey finished with a career high 13 points, with captain Maud Ranger chipping in 10 points and 9 rebounds.
For Manchester, Hannah Shaw and Sofia Song both had 19 point performances, with Nicolette Fong Lyew Quee adding 17 and Rheanne Bailey 14 in a balanced offensive performance, as Mystics move on to face Newcastle Eagles in the next round.
After her strong performance, Pride’s Sian Phillips remarked: “It was a game of runs; we had spells of really good energy and hustle, however Manchester put up a consistent performance and came away with the win. The game has shown us what we need to do better and has given us a focus for the coming weeks. One of our aims in the game was to be aggressive in transition and get to the rim. This focus guided my performance and I was pleased to get some good looks. The energy and momentum from a good defensive possession allowed us to attack hard in offence.”
Pride coach Donnie MacDonald commented after the game: “We had some good energy in spells tonight, but defensively we weren’t good enough. We gave up far too much in transition by not sticking to our team principles and we got beat 1v1 far too much, putting us into help rotations against an experienced team, who took advantage of that. But we will learn from this and will look to make improvements in these areas in the next game.”
Pride’s next game is against Newcastle Eagles in the WBBL Championship on Saturday 20th February.