Runaway leaders are too strong for toothless Giants

Player/coach Jo Richards, who was disappointed by Mansfield Giants' offensive efforts.
Player/coach Jo Richards, who was disappointed by Mansfield Giants' offensive efforts.

Top-of-the-table University of Nottingham proved too strong for Mansfield Giants in their latest National Women’s Basketball League, Second Division match.

Giants, who sit in fifth spot, were keen to continue the positive form they have shown in the second half of the season and prove they can compete with the league’s big guns.

But it was always going to be a tough ask against a team who have won all bar one of their league fixtures this term, and they duly went down to a 56-41 defeat.

Player/coach Jo Richards said: “I think we’re a little disappointed with our offensive efforts. We played well on defence and managed to contain a team that had scored close to 120 points the previous week. To restrict them to 56 is a positive that we will take away with us.

“But although w’re fairly pleased with the final outcome, we feel we did not perform to the best of our ability in our own half, and our fitness let us down too against such a young, fit side.”

Nottingham started strongly, showing why they are running away with the divisional title and almost certain to gain promotion at the end of the season.

However, the second quarter belonged to Giants initially as Emily Arsharmian entered the fray to sink a long-range shot before Chedelle Cruickshank, who was top points’ scorer with ten, took over the reins to pour in five consecutive points. In fact, when Ashlea Smith scored a huge ‘and one’, Giants even edged into a 20-19 lead.

After a swift Nottingham time-out, though, they came out refreshed and ready to restore command, sinking three consecutive three-pointers to regain the advantage and lead 37-25 at the half-time break.

The second half swung back in the favour of the fast Nottingham side whose superior fitness took hold of the game. As they began to draw away, the Mansfield outfit were restricted to only five points in the third quarter and the top dogs went into the final stages with a healthy 17-point cushion.

To their credit, Giants refused to buckle and they took the last quarter 11-9. Sadly, the damage had already been done and they suffered their seventh reverse of 13 matches so far this term.

Their next league match is this Saturday when they entertain Worcester Wolves (4.15 pm), who lie fourth in the table just four points above Richards’s troops. The clash is part of a big day of basketball at Mansfield’s Oak Tree Leisure Centre. Preceding the women’s match will be games involving Giants’ U16s, who take on Cheshire Wire at 12.15 pm, and the club’s U18 boys, who play Northants Thunder at 2.15 pm.

The day is rounded off by a match for Mansfield Giants’ men’s side, who tackle Birmingham Mets in Division Three of the National Men’s League. Languishing only one place off the foot of the table after just two wins, they could do with a change in fortunes.