There were no signs of rustiness when Mansfield Giants’ women’s basketball team returned from the long Christmas lay-off.
For they romped to a 65-26 victory over bottom-of-the-table Barrow Thorns in the Women’s Second Division of the National Basketball League.
After a troubled first half of the season, which was plagued by injuries, Giants’ squad is almost back up to full strength, although they had to take on Barrow without captain Alison Bridge, who is still out.
The comprehensive win lifted them up to fifth place in the nine-team table, six points behind unbeaten leaders Team Birmingham Elite, who have won all seven of their fixtures so far.
It should also fill them with confidence ahead of this Sunday’s crunch local-derby match away to Derbyshire Gems at Queen’s Park Leisure Centre in Chesterfield (3 pm start) when Giants will be hoping to avenge a defeat at the hands of their rivals on the opening day of the season.
Against Barrow, they started well, with Chedell Cruickshank quickly on the scoresheet, and by the end of the first quarter, they had already built a solid 17-5 lead.
The home side hit back in the opening exchanges of the second quarter with a quick lay-up, and they started to put the pressure on. But thanks to back-to-back threes from Beth Wheldon and Charlotte Levitt also finding the basket, Giants entered half-time 32-13 up.
In the second half, the visitors took control, piling on 19 points in the third quarter and restricting the hosts to just six points in the final quarter.
Levitt was the leading points’ scorer with 17, followed by player/coach Jo Richards with 14, and Cruickshank and Wheldon with eight apiece.
After the trip to Chesterfield, Giants have a three-week break from league action before returning to the court on Saturday, February 11 (2.15 pm) with a home match against leaders Birmingham at the Oak Tree Leisure Centre.