Depleted Mansfield Giants cut down to size after sterling start

ACTION from Mansfield Giants' defeat at home to Team Birmingham.
ACTION from Mansfield Giants' defeat at home to Team Birmingham.

Depleted Mansfield Giants’ women’s team could not make the most of an excellent start when tackling Team Birmingham in their latest National Basketball League fixture.

Giants, who were without three key players, kept battling away in front of their fans at the Oak Tree Leisure Centre. But they went down to a 62-54 defeat and now prop up the seven-team Women’s North Division table after eight losses in nine games.

They made a sterling opening to the contest with five players making the scoresheet, including a big three from Beth Wheldon. Alia Wilson also came off the bench to dominate inside, while some solid defence restricted Birmingham to ten points in the first quarter, which ended with Giants holding a three-point lead.

Things got even better in the second quarter as the Mansfield outfit continued to boss the show, playing to well-structured defence to force Birmingham outside, while Charlotte Levitt grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck inside, getting some huge offensive putbacks.

Captain Alison Bridge also showed her poise from the three-point line and the halfway stage of the match arrived with the hosts 28-20 up.

However, with their squad under-strength and struggling with rotations, Giants began to tire in the early stages of the second half. Levitt continued to find space inside and Chedell Cruickshank stepped to the line to score a free throw, but Birmingham found their range from outside the three-point line and sank some huge shots to get them back into the match.

By the start of the final quarter, Giants’ advantage had been cut to just one point, and they remained on the back foot. Birmingham dug deep to take the first two baskets and managed to hold on to their lead as the home side, despite trying their best, ran out of steam.

The leading Giants’ points-scorers were Levitt with 17, Jo Richards with 12, Wheldon with eight, Wilson with six and Bridge with five.

The team are back in action this weekend with a trip to meet tabletopping Charnwood College Riders.