London Lions Bury Cardiff Archers in the First Half to Claim 6th Consecutive WBBL Championship Victory, 71-86. Kennedy Leonard Records a 12-point, 14-assist Double-Double and Mikiah “Kiki” Herbert Harrigan Scores a Game-High 23 Points to Help the Lions Remain Top of the League.
The London Lions returned to domestic action against the Cardiff Archers and used a near-dominant first-half performance to keep their Welsh rivals at bay to claim a 71-86 away victory.
The Lions' famed ball-sharing offence was anchored by Kennedy Leonard’s 14 assists, contributing to 29 of her team’s points. The high-IQ playmaker also recorded 12 points of her own to go with 8 rebounds and 2 timely steals.
Although connecting on most of her buckets in the painted area, Mikiah “Kiki” Herbert Harrigan efficiently pocketed 23 points, shooting 53% from the field whilst hitting 4 of 6 of her shots from the charity stripe. The 2-way forward once again showed her prowess on the defensive side of the ball, blocking 3 shots, two of which were in the first half.
Cardiff Archers’ rim protectors found it particularly difficult to slow down and stop Ty Battle from dominating in the paint (as well as the restricted area). Battle used her years of experience and high IQ to weave her way through the Archers’ defence to 16 points, shooting a gaudy 70% from the field. The forward also collected 5 total rebounds and pestered the Welsh offence grabbing a steal and a vital fourth-quarter block, keeping the Lions’ 15-point lead intact.
The Londoners raced out to a 4-10 with the help of buckets from Katsiaryna Syntsina, Mikiah “Kiki” Herbert Harrigan and Azania Stewart. Cardiff could not significantly close the gap until the 3:14 mark of the first quarter when back-to-back buckets from Lara Habling and Kim Kheing brought Cardiff to within 3 points of the Lions’ 14-17 lead. Even though this sparked a 9-6 run by the Archers to close out the period, the Lions led by 5 points going into the second quarter.
The Lions’ defence held the Cardiff Archers to just 10 points in the second period. Their lockdown performance contributed to the Archers’ 13 missed shots and 7 turnovers. A block from “Kiki” Herbert Harrigan and steals from Syntsina and Leonard helped to suffocate the Welsh offence and galvanise their offence to the tune of 20 pints via 6 well-timed assists.
Nursing the wounds of a 15-point first-half deficit, the home side came out swinging in the third quarter. Buckets from Lauren Saiki, Shannon Hatch, Mara Marchizotti and Kim Kheing helped Cardiff claw their way back into the game, scoring 23 points, their best offensive output.
However, although they were able to connect on more shots, their defence could not stop the Lions from scoring seemingly at will, allowing the Londoners to pocket 22 points, two more points than they had in the previous period. By the end of the third, the Lions held a 14-point lead over the Welsh side, who tried their best to close the gap but were ultimately kept at bay.
The fourth quarter was similar to the third in that Cardiff had another somewhat impressive scoring output but couldn’t stop the Lions' collective weaponry from scoring. Cardiff scored 20 points in the period, closing the Lions' lead to down 10 points three times throughout the quarter.
However, the Lions’ refused to cave under pressure extending their lead to two and then three points every time the Welsh side closed the gap to 10 points. The Lions scored 21 points during the quarter, including a fast-break transition bucket from “Kiki” of the back of an Azania Stewart steal, with 30 seconds left on the clock.
The Lions walked away with a 71-86 away victory and their undefeated WBBL regular season record intact. Their next domestic clash will see them take on the Nottingham Wildcats on 17th December 2022.