London Lions Complete Clean Sweep, Winning the WBBL Championship Playoff Final 54-41.
Low-Post Specialist Ty Battle Records 15 Rebounds, 8 Points, 2 Steals & 2 Assists to Claim MVP Title
In front of their adoring fans from across the British capital, the London Lions completed a clean sweep of domestic titles, beating arch-rivals the Leicester Riders 57-41 in the Championship Playoff Final.
In her last professional game, Azania Stewart got things off on the right foot, winning the tipoff and eventually opening the Lions’ account following two missed opportunities (2-0).
The lead went back and forth until the 05:46 mark when Fiona O'dwyer hit a fast-break 3-pointer following the referee’s failure to call an obvious charge on Mckenzie Johnston (4-8). This lucky brace ignited an almighty 15-2 Lions’ surge, which allowed the Londoners to take a 19-10 lead going into the second quarter.
After the short break, the Riders got back into gear, opening the quarter with a 2-10 run that allowed the Leicestershire-based team to cut the deficit to just one point (21-20). But their ill-disciplined defensive structure broke under the sheer weight of the Lions' offence, conceding an 11-3 run to close out the quarter (31-23).
The third quarter was a largely inefficient ten-minute period for both teams, with the Lions only able to record 11 points compared to the Riders' meagre five. The Londoners started with two back-to-back buckets from Katsiaryna Snytsina and Taylor Murray (35-23). Still, they then proceeded (along with the Riders) to go on a five-minute scoring drought.
During this time, the Riders cut the lead to ten points via Hannah Robb’s floater (35-25), but then they had to wait just under four minutes to score again (37-28). Snytsina hit a triple with 35 seconds left on the clock and followed this up with a steal, forcing Oliana Squires into a turnover. That defensive play turned into a fast break layup for Leslie Vorpahl to end the quarter (42-38).
Both teams upped their points production in the fourth quarter, with the Lions pushing their lead out to 20 points on two occasions (50-30 and 55-35). Kirsty Brown cut the deficit to 18 points with 01:17 left on the clock, but it was too late. Winterburn scored the Lions' last points just before Jessica Eadsforth-Yates picked up her only points of the game with 16 seconds left.
Ty Battle once again excelled in her expanded role, recording an excellent 15-rebound, 8-point, 2-steal and 2-assist performance to earn the MVP title. The low-post specialist was also lights out from the free throw line connecting on all four of her attempts.
Katsiaryna Snytsina, Holly Winterburn and Taylor Murray shared scoring duties while helping suppress the Riders' offence.
Katsiaryna Snytsina hit three en route to 11 points and helped to facilitate the offence dishing out four assists to her teammates. The wing also grabbed six rebounds and two steals.
Holly Winterburn also pocketed 11 points to help the Lions defeat the Riders. The guard grabbed five defensive rebounds to help defend the paint and two steals to help protect the perimeter. Winterburn also hit her comrades with a team-leading five assists to facilitate the offence.
Taylor Murray connected on four of her eight shot attempts to earn 10 points. The 2-way specialist grabbed three defensive rebounds and one steal to frustrate the Riders’ offence.
Shequila Joseph led the bench mob with nine rebounds, six points, and one steal. Leslie Vorpahl came off the bench to record seven points, two rebounds, one steal and three assists.