Durham Palatinates 87 – 61 Oaklands Wolves (18-17, 24-12, 20-13, 25-19)
(Palatinates – Ottewill-Soulsby 29, Wayne 21, Hendershot 10; Wolves – George 15, Spence 14, Porter 13)
Sevenoaks Suns 60 – 50 Essex Rebels (14-10, 17-7, 14-15, 15-18)
(Suns – Monakana 16, Bradshaw 15, Busch 10; Rebels – Swart 20, Kohlhaas 9, Haines 7)
Newcastle Eagles 91 – 77 Manchester Met Mystics (25-18, 18-19, 18-22, 30-18)
(Eagles – Nolan 30, Lewis 22, Justinak 20; Mystics – Keltos 23, Sanchez Czerniecki 20, Abbott 16)
Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby led the home side to an 87-61 win with a monster double-double of 29 points and 13 rebounds, while Jessica Wayne also put up great numbers – 21 points and eight rebounds.
Grace George led the visitors with 15 points and nine rebounds – just missing out on her double-double.
The game started with the Palatinates pressing the out-of-bounds inbound right from the off.
Within the first two minutes, the Durham defence had managed to get a steal under Oaklands’ basket and converted the easy layup to go up 4-2 – a lead they didn’t surrender all match.
To break the press, the Wolves had to speed up their offence – which they achieved on occasions – by getting easy buckets and keeping the score very tight.
The Palatinates moved the ball very well on offence – displaying their excellent team chemistry – with Ottewill-Soulsby being the beneficiary, finding herself under the basket all alone, and finishing with the reverse layup to put her team up by six (18-12).
However, the visitors had the last laugh of the quarter when Kizzy Spence hit a contested three right on the buzzer to close out the period just one point behind (18-17).
Durham came out in the second and decided against playing a full-court press as they had done in the opening 10 minutes.
Instead, they focused on shoring up their defence, forcing Oaklands into five-on-five offences and restricting them into taking tough shots.
Combined with their high shooting percentages, this allowed the Palatinates to start building out a lead on the back of two consecutive triples, first by Orieoma Chukwu-Etu and then by Wayne, giving the home team a seven-point advantage (26-19) and forcing Coach Freeman into a time-out.
The time-out didn’t seem to help the visitors, with Durham coming out all guns blazing and extending their run to 12-0 after Ottewill-Soulsby hit a mid-range jumper to bring her team’s lead to 13 points – its highest of the first half (32-19) – with four minutes left to play until the break.
The two teams then started exchanging baskets for the final four minutes (10-10), with the difference staying at 13 points as they headed to the locker rooms (42-29).
The second half began with the home side extending their largest lead after Wayne hit another shot from downtown to make it a 16-point game (45-29).
However, the visitors replied on the next play, with Eva Karasaite draining her shot from behind the arc before Cassidy Gould finished a fast break with a beautiful spin move, cutting down the lead to 11 (45-34) and forcing Coach Davie into a time-out.
Whatever Coach Davie told his players worked, as Eliza Brault hit a three straight away.
As the third quarter progressed, the Palatinates continued increasing their lead, first with a triple by Chukwu-Etu and then with Wayne converting again from behind the three-point line and bringing the lead up to its highest margin of 21 points (62-41).
Going into the final 10 minutes, Durham continued their intense defence, forcing Oaklands into some tough shots. They were relentless on the rebounds – out-rebounding their opponents 54-39 by the end of the game.
The first couple minutes in the fourth period also saw the game’s largest lead of 26 points (70-44) when Ottewill-Soulsby drained her second three of the night.
The two teams then exchanged baskets for the remaining eight minutes (17-17), with the final score at a 26-point difference.
With this W, the Palatinates move above their opponents with a record of 3-6, while the Wolves fall to 3-8.
Janice Monakana led the way for the Suns with an impressive double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds, followed closely by Araion Bradshaw, who recorded her own double-double of 15 points and 16 boards.
Despite Sune Swart’s heroics, which saw her record a double-double (20 points, 12 rebounds), the Rebels could not secure the win.
The game started with both teams emphasising their defence and restricting their opponents’ scoring.
Sevenoaks saw Swart as the biggest threat in this Essex side and had a clear game plan of double-teaming her whenever she got the ball to restrict her scoring as much as possible.
Due to both teams playing such tough defence inside, the two offences were forced to shoot a lot from downtown, which kept the first five minutes of the first quarter quite low-scoring, as neither team had found their rhythm yet.
That’s when Monakana took control of the ball game, with three brilliant plays in succession.
First, the team GB star used her strength under the rim to brush off her defender and score, to tie the game before draining a three on the next possession, to put her team up 9-6.
However, the 27-year-old wasn’t done there, as she then managed to intercept Ashleigh Munns’ pass, which led to an easy two for Brittany Hodges.
Hodges then hit 1/2 free throws on the next play and capped off a brilliant 8-0 run that saw the Suns take a 12-6 lead with 90 seconds left to play in the first.
A deep triple by Andrea Kohlhaas saw the Rebels come back to within two (12-10), with the first period closing at 14-10.
Although the first quarter was evenly matched, the second period saw Sevenoaks assert their control over the game through their offensive rebounds, which saw them out-rebound their opponents 32-20 in the first half.
First, Amelia Watkins grabbed the offensive board and laid it in before Hodges did the same and got fouled on the play, leading to an and-one and a seven-point lead (20-13).
The home side managed to get their first double-digit lead of the match – with just under four minutes left to play until the half – when Monakana grabbed a long offensive rebound and dished it to Renee Busch, who hit a jumper from the free throw line (26-15).
Monakana then hit 1/2 free throws to cap off a 7-0 run that saw her team go up by 12 points (27-15) – which was their largest lead of the game so far.
The dominant forward continued her scoring streak by draining a long-range jumper from the top, putting Sevenoaks up by a game-high (so far) 14 points (31-17) – which capped off an 11-2 run for the home side in the final six-and-a-half minutes of the first half.
The third quarter was a stark contrast to the second, producing a much tighter affair.
A triple by Bradshaw to start the period saw the Suns increase their lead to its highest margin of 17 points (34-17) before that was increased again, this time by Shambria Washington, who hit 2/3 free throws to bring it up to 19 (36-17).
That’s when the Essex fightback began, with the visitors going on a 9-0 run and closing the gap down to 10 (40-30), capped off by a wide-open three by Jade Mbam.
With just 30 seconds left to play in the third period, Hodges grabbed another offensive rebound, which led to a corner three-pointer by Bradshaw that saw the lead extended back up to 13 (45-32), giving the Suns a much-needed cushion.
The fourth quarter started with a couple of missed shots from both teams before Kohlhaas hit her second triple of the game to cut the deficit back down to 10 points (45-35).
However, Bradshaw didn’t let that last long, driving hard to the basket and converting the and-one play to give her team a 13-point breathing room again (48-35).
The Rebels kept fighting for the remainder of the match and made it a single-digit game (53-44) when Kohlhaas hit her third triple with five minutes left to play.
With the dub still not certain for the Suns – as the Rebels were fighting hard and had reduced the 19-point lead down to as few as nine points – up stepped the home side’s two top scorers to effectively call game.
Bradshaw pushed the ball down the floor to catch the Essex defence unprepared and found Monakana under the basket all alone, who laid it in for the easy two.
Washington then proceeded to steal the ball from the inbound and sealed her team’s hard-fought win.
With this result the Suns move up to second place with a record of 9-3, while the Rebels drop to 5-7.
Katie Nolan put up monster numbers for the Eagles with a double-double of 30 points and 13 rebounds, with Antoinette Lewis following close behind with her own double-double of 22 points and 14 rebounds.
Samantha Keltos and Shaelynne Sanchez Czerniecki put up a valiant effort for the Mystics with 23 and 20 points respectively, but that was not enough to help their team secure the W.
The game started with the two teams exchanging plenty of baskets, with the visitors ahead 11-12 after the first five minutes.
The Eagles tried to press their opponents on the inbound, but the Mystics were able to break the press and hit their open shots.
Newcastle got their noses in front by three points (16-13) after Chloe Gaynor managed to hit a Hail Mary shot right as the shot clock was expiring, with three minutes left to play in the first.
A tough and-one by Nolan then saw the Eagles go up by four (19-15), before the American centre capped off her team’s 7-0 run with two made free throws to put them up by eight (23-15).
A long-range triple by Claire Abbott gave Manchester some much needed points (23-18) in order to stop Newcastle’s run and prevent them for getting a big lead.
The second quarter was an even tighter affair than the first, with the visitors managing to bring it back to within one point (27-26) after an 8-2 run.
First Sanchez Czerniecki hit a three, before that was followed by Keltos and then Leah McDerment curled around the screen to hit the open jumper from the edge of the key.
The Geordies didn’t allow their opponents’ comeback to startle them, as both Nolan and Lewis grabbed offensive rebounds following their own misses and scored the put backs, giving their side a five-point cushion (31-26) with six minutes to go until the half.
Lewis then managed to grab another offensive board off her missed shot once again and laid it in, giving the Eagles their highest lead of the game (41-32).
Manchester knew they had to stay in the game before the two teams headed to the locker rooms and that’s what they did when excellent ball movement found Abbott all alone on the corner and she drained her three-pointer, to bring the lead back down to four (41-37), before Nolan’s layup ended the half with the home side up by six (43-37).
The third quarter saw the Eagles trying to trap the Mystics with the press once again, similar to the first period, but the visitors managed to break it and found Sanchez Czerniecki, who connected with the jumper from the free throw line (45-39).
As the period progressed, Manchester started finding their rhythm once more and led by their defence, they started mounting a comeback.
Sanchez Czerniecki hit an open triple to cut the lead down to five (55-50), before Abbott hit all three of her free throws after getting fouled on her long-range effort to cut it down to three (57-54).
Keltos hit a turnaround jumper to make it a one-point game (57-56), before a three from Josephine Vourliotis gave the visitors their first lead of the game (57-59) since the first quarter, capping off an excellent 8-0 run.
Two consecutive jumpers by the Eagles, first from Gaynor and then from Courtney Clasen saw the home side re-take the lead going into the final 10 minutes up by two (61-59).
The first four minutes of the fourth period saw the two teams exchange buckets, with Newcastle having a slender four-point lead after Abbott made her third three of the night (69-65).
With just over six minutes to play however, everything changed when Rachael Bland intercepted Sanchez Czerniecki’s pass, before Keltos crashed into her, with the refs calling an unsportsmanlike foul on the Canadian.
That marked Keltos’ fifth foul of the game, with the 6’3” centre fouling out of the game.
With their best player out of the game, the Mystics’ defence crumbled, with no one left to defend Nolan, who was killing it on the offensive end.
A 7-0 run by the Geordies saw them get their first double-digit lead of the game (76-65), when Lewis hit the floating jump shot.
The lead then reached its highest value of 12 (80-68) when Gaynor found Nolan under the basket, before the same connection ended in the same result and extended the home team’s advantage to 14 (84-70).
A 7-0 run by Newcastle was capped off by Maggie Justinak who hit a triple from behind the arc as the shot clock was winding down, increasing the lead to 17 (91-74), calling game in the process.
With this dub, the Eagles move up to sixth with a record of 5-6, while the Mystics remain at the bottom of the table, still searching for their first win, at 0-12.