Two weeks on from the season opener, Pride were on the road to face off against Durham Palatinates, who were playing their first game of the campaign.
The game started brightly for Pride, with point guard Maela Faleu scoring the first points of the game on drive to the hoop. After that initial score, Durham found their feet and moved into an 8 point lead early in the game. However Pride’s young Spanish guard Luisa Velazquez came of the the bench to provide a spark with 8 quick points, as Pride finished Q1 leading 20-15.
Moving into the 2nd quarter, Durham began to take control of the game through their experienced forwards Kara Elderkin and former Pride player Claire Paxton, as Palatinates restored their 8 point lead midway through the period. Pride weren’t helping themselves however, with a number of turnovers and multiple fouls putting Durham in the bonus early in the quarter.
But late in the quarter Pride once again fought back, with 3 pointers from Rose Harvey and Maud Ranger helping to close the score. Just before the halftime buzzer, Sian Phillips charged down an attempted full-court shot by Palatinates and the ball fell kindly for Pollyanna Storie, who quickly got a short jump shot off to tie the game 38-38 at halftime.
The second half began with Pride setting the pace and looking to score in transition, with Ella Doherty getting the first score of Q3 on a Fastbreak on her return to the team from injury. After this, both teams struggled to get any half court offence going, but Pride were solid on defence and created more in transition as they outscored the English side 11-4 in first 7 minutes of period. Following a Durham timeout, the teams traded scores for the remainder of the quarter and Pride maintained their 7 point lead going into the final period, with the score 53-46.
As the 4th quarter started, the pressure defence and fast paced transition offense of Pride began to take its toll on Durham, as Pride went on an 8-2 in the first 2:20 of the quarter, capped by a coast to coast score by Storie, which led to an early timeout for Palatinates. Pride weren’t to let up however, as they extended that run to 18-4 at midpoint of the quarter, forcing another timeout from Durham with the score 71-50. Durham kept fighting to try to reduce the Pride lead late in the game, but the young Pride team, with an average age of 18.5 years, played confidently to the end to see the game to win by a score of 78-60.
Top performers on the stat sheet were Pollyanna Storie, with 19 points and 9 rebounds, Sian Phillips with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 6 steals, and Luisa Velazquez with 13 points and 6 rebounds. The performances of Maela Faleu and Maud Ranger on defence were also critical to the result, as they combined for 7 steals and 16 deflections.
Kara Elderkin finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds for Durham, with Scotland’s Claire Paxton adding 15 points and 8 rebounds.
Following the game, Pride’s Maud Ranger commented: “We are all very happy with the outcome of the game as this marks our first win of the season. Thinking beyond the final score, we achieved many goals that we had set for this game — to play with energy, grit, and together. This was an exciting team win that will now give us momentum to keep improving in practice and future games. We look forward to it!”
Pride coach Donnie MacDonald was pleased with the performance, stating: “I’m delighted for the girls to get this result early in the season to reinforce that all the hard work they have been putting in for months now has been worth it. I thought we played with great intensity today and showed great togetherness throughout the game. We still have a lot of work to do in our half-court play, but today was a good step forward from the previous game.”
Next up for Pride is another road trip, as they face their opponents from the opening day, Leicester Riders, on Sunday 7th February.
Photographs courtesy of Mansoor Ahmed