WBBL Play-Off, quarter-final
London Lions 86-37 Newcastle Eagles (26-8, 52-20, 70-32)
(Lions: Winterburn, 21; Battle, 15; Joseph, 13 — Eagles: Justinak/Lewis, 11; Fernandez, 5; Nolan, 4)
A strong start lifted the London Lions to an 86-37 win over the Newcastle Eagles in their WBBL Play-off, quarter-final match-up at Crystal Palace on Bank Holiday Monday.
Now without Kiki Herbert Harrigan due to WNBA training camp, the WBBL Championship winners were still clinical, especially in the open floor as they quickly established a double-digit lead and never looked back.
Holly Winterburn led the Lions with 21 points, shooting 41% from the field, with Ty Battle adding 15 on 6/9 shooting.
Maggie Justinak and Antionette Lewis both had 11 points for the Eagles.
From the opening tip, Newcastle attacked London, but the first few possessions produced basic turnovers, allowing the Lions to capitalise with two triples in the corner from Katsiaryna Snytsina along with a three in transition from Winterburn giving the hosts the advantage.
From outside to inside play as Shequila Joseph connected inside for a three-point play giving London a 18-6 lead with 2:58 left, and the gap grew further with 1:30 left, a fast break bucket from Chantel Charles handed the hosts a 23-8 cushion, forcing a Newcastle timeout.
And as is typical for the Lions all season long, a buzzer-beating long-range basket from Snytsina put her side in control, up 26-8 after one.
Like the male colleagues, the Eagles were able to get shots up and eventually got to double digits through free throws from Justinak and a jumper from Marina Fernandez narrowed the deficit.
And Fernandez was again at the heart of Newcastle’s offence as they enjoyed a positive spell of play, as she connected on her side’s first three-pointer in eight attempts, but through Winterburn, the champions led 37-15 with 4:31 in the half remaining.
Despite the pressure that the Eagles put on the Lions, the hosts were still able to shoot a solid 44% from the field, bettering the 23% from Newcastle as they took a 52-20 cushion at the half.
And London’s lead soared to 63-32 with 4:11 remaining as Battle got it done at both ends as her steal led the fast break where she finished inside off the feed from Joseph, en route to a comfortable 70-32 advantage.
From there, the Lions’ lead peaked at 51 points as they continued to push the ball and punish the Eagles in transition on their way to a victory.