Mansfield Giants’ women cut down to size by debutants Gems

LEADING BY EXAMPLE -- captain Alison Bridge spearheaded the Giants fightback.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE -- captain Alison Bridge spearheaded the Giants fightback.
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Player/coach Jo Richards refused to be too downhearted after Mansfield Giants’ women’s team suffered a defeat in their opening match of the new National Basketball League, Second Division season.

Giants fell 59-50 at home to league newcomers Derbyshire Gems, who were making their eagerly-awaited debut at this level after a successful run in the Sheffield League. But Richards is sure that her side will improve as the season progresses.

“We started slowly and that came back to bite us in the end,” she said. “But we put in some solid individual performances, which was pleasing for the first game of the season.

“Our new additions did a great job coming in off the bench, and they will really help us when they’ve settled and gained more confidence throughout the season.”

Richards herself scored the first points of the match, sinking an early ‘three’. But then mistakes in defence enabled Gems to hit the free throw-line and get the home side in some early foul trouble. From there, the visitors dominated the first quarter and surged into a nine-point lead, even though Giants’ centre Charlotte Levitt also made the scoresheet.

The second quarter saw the hosts find their feet, winning it 14-12, with both Chedell Crickshank and Beth Weldon scoring from long range. But Gems still managed to keep them at bay, and the Mansfield side’s fightback didn’t really get under way until the fourth and final quarter.

Captain Alison Bridge led the charge, pouring in six consecutive points and cutting the deficit to just four at one stage. Sadly, it was too much too late because Gems had another gear they were able to step up to, utilising their deep bench to terrific effect to keep up the pace and close out the match.

Giants’ leading points scorer was Bridge with 14, followed by Richards and Levitt, who each bagged eight, Cruickshank with four and Weldon with two.

Giants’ next match is on Saturday, October 22 (4 pm) at home to Barrow Thorns at the Oak Tree Leisure Centre. This is followed by their first away game of the new campaign against Team Birmingham Elite on Saturday, November 5 (2 pm). Seven days later, on Saturday, November 12 (4.15 pm), they are back on home territory against Sefton Starlights.