A poor start to the fourth quarter proved costly for London Lions as they lost their final home game in the EuroCup Women group stage 68-61 against Rutronik Stars Keltern.
Mark Clark’s side failed to trouble the scorer in the first five minutes of the final quarter, and will go into a pair of away games knowing they need at least one win to progress to the knockout stage.
Kennedy Leonard led the Lions with nine of her 16 points coming in the second half, adding seven assists and six rebounds. while Azania Stewart had a ten point, ten rebound double-double. Chantelle Charles finished with eight rebounds to go with her six points while captain Shanice Norton had nine points despite early foul trouble.
It was poor shooting that ultimately cost Lions as they had 17 more field goal attempts than the German side but scored only 31 percent of their shots. American guard Brittany Carter led the visitors with 19 points and six rebounds while Alex Kiss-Rusk in points in each half on her way to a double-double with 13 points.
After the visitors had won the tip, Winterburn opened the scoring with a floater, only for Bekford-Norton pick up two quick fouls and be replaced by Cassie Breen and the visitors led 6-4 at the midway stage of the opening frame.
After a Clark timeout Stephanie Umeh ended the drought before Leonard sunk a trey to put Lions 9-8 with two minutes on the clock before the German side scored the final four points of the period to lead 12-9.
Paige Robinson grabbed an offensive board and scored to open the second period and Beckford-Norton marked her return to tie the game with three with 6:27 on the clock forcing a Keltern timeout.
Leonard scored with a driving lay-up out of the break before Winterburn beat the shot clock to put Lions 20-18 up midway through the quarter. A beautiful lay-up from Leonard clearly rattled the visitors as Matea Tavic was then called for an offensive foul before Carter and Charles exchanged triples to send Lions into the locker room with a narrow 27-26 lead.
Stewart spun to the basket to open the second half and the GB centre kept Lions ahead with a pair of free-throws before getting her own rebound and continuing her scoring run before Kiss-Rusk brought her side within a point after a manic period of play.
Captain Mailis Pokk hit a triple to put the Germans 37-35 with four minutes on the clock before an off-balance Beckford-Norton shot tied things again. Breen went to the line for three, and sunk all of her shots without touching the rim to make it a five point game. Kiss-Rusk hit a long two only to see Breen and Carter exchange triples as Lions went into the final break 47-44 ahead.
Carter’s jump shot made it a one point game to open the final stanza as Lions saw several shots rim out before Pokk hit a big three to put Keltern back ahead by two and Linn Schuler that lead with another trey.
Carter hit another treble to take the lead out to eight with 7:32 on the clock to force a Clark timeout and another break followed from the Lions’ play-caller before Leonard’s trey finally ended the drought and cut the deficit to five.
Breen hit another trey to force a timeout with 4:12 the clock and the visitors leading 57-52. Beckford-Norton hit a pair at the foul line to keep the hosts within five before she drove to the basket to make it a three-point game.
But Tavic hit a three off a screen to double that lead before Winterburn stole the ball and scored. Leonard then stole the ball and after a miss, Lions grabbed the rebound and Leonard sunk a trey to make it a one point game with 1:13 on the clock,
Beckford-Norton turned the ball over and was called for a foul as she attempted to steal it back, sending Tavic to the line where she hit both shots.
Leonard saw a lay-up off Winterburn’s pass agonisingly rim out and with Lions forced to send Carter to the foul line she coolly sunk both shots. Lions called a timeout and advanced the ball with 19 seconds on the clock and Leonard missed a three, leading the visitors to wrap things up at the foul line.