It was a tall order for Mansfield Giants going into the game against second-placed team Lancashire Spinners.
Spinners were the only side in the league to have dealt a loss to the leaders Charnwood Riders and their abilities shone throughout, as the visitors claimed a 71-55 win.
Going into the game without guard Beth Wheldon, a regular top scorer for the home side, Giants were going to need to step up if they wanted to cause an upset.
Spinners came out on fire, putting up five ‘three-pointers’ in the first five minutes of the game, with only newcomer Alia Wilson answering with three straight baskets in the paint.
However, with the visiting Clayden sisters combining for 16 points in the first quarter, it was an uphill battle with captain Alison Bridge dropping in a ‘three’ before bowing out of the game with a knee injury.
With a 13-point deficit going into the second quarter, Giants looked to their experienced inside players to lead the team with Jade Clemenson and Charlie Levitt pouring in points under the basket.
However, it was player-coach Jo Richards who lit up, knocking down three of her fivegame ‘three-pointers’ to keep Spinners on their toes.
Having now found their form on offence, the Giants prevented the Lancashire side from progressing their lead further, going into the half time 26-40.
The second half saw Giants tire, with the Spinners deep bench beginning to take its toll, seeing the home side held to 12 points in the quarter.
However, the team were not going to lie down, fighting back with some huge long range shots from Cruickhank and Richards to bring the deficit back to just nine points.
But following a time out from Lancashires Coach and ex GB player Julie Page, the away team once again looked to the Clayden sisters to pour in three straight baskets to put a hold to the Giants’ last ditch attempt to claim the game, finishing 55-71.
Following the match, Giants coach Jo Richards analysed the game.
She said: “We dug ourselves into a hole defensively in the first quarter which we just couldn’t pull ourselves out of.
“We’ve worked a lot on our offensive intensity and we had some really strong individual performances from people that stepped up today despite being plagued by injury and missing Beth.
“Spinners are a tough side and I think we did ourselves justice today, so we’ll go back to the drawing board confident ahead of our match up with Manchester Mysics next weekend.”
Giants scorers: 17 Jo Richards, 12 A.Wilson, 8 C.Levitt, 4 J.Clemenson, 4 R.Campbell, 3 C.Cruickshank, 3 A.Bridge, 2 F.Harper, 2 J.Blakeway.
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