London Lions Ride Past Leicester After Difficult Second Quarter to Claim 76-52 Victory.
Player of the Game, Holly Winterburn Records 20-Point, 10-Rebound Double-Double a Front of a Club Record Crowd of 1,170 Spectators, Azania Stewart's Last Game at the Copper Box Arena!
The London Lion’s late afternoon clash had several factors that made it a joyous occasion. Following a historic season, the Lions attracted the club’s record WBBL crowd of 1,170 spectators to watch the team play arch-rivals the Riders. Secondly, after announcing her retirement earlier this year, the game would be Azania Stewart's last at the Copper Box Arena.
Lastly, if Caledonia lost their game against Sevenoaks, the Lions would clinch the 2023 league title. Alas, London were not able to lift the league trophy due to the Gladiators squeaking past the Suns (66-61). Nevertheless, the Lions walked away from Sunday’s doubleheader 76-52 victors after a difficult second period that at one stage saw the Riders take a 27-28 lead.
The Leicestershire-based outfit took an early 0-4 lead in the first quarter, which London stamped out two minutes later (4-4) and held them to that points score until the last four minutes in the quarter (11-4). London kept the Riders at bay toward the end of the period finishing the quarter with a 17-9 lead, capped off with “Kiki” Herbert Harrigan’s poorly contested layup.
The Riders fought more in the second quarter, tying the score at the halfway point of the period (25-25) and eventually taking a slender one-point lead (27-28) at the 03:44 mark. However, composed as ever, the Lions continued to fight back, finally breaking their opponents via Taylor Murray’s coast-to-coast layup to the bucket and Chantel Charles’ quarter-ending buzzer-beating triple (32-28).
Although the teams traded buckets for the first two and a half minutes of the third (39-34), the Lions tightened their defence, refusing to allow the Leicestershire representatives to score until the 04:49 point of the third period (42-36). Free throws allowed the Riders to cut the lead to four points (44-40), but their defence faltered under the barrage of attacks from the Lions, succumbing to an 8-1 run towards the end of the quarter (52-41).
The fourth quarter opened up to a back-and-forth that saw the Riders cut the lead to six points (54-48). However, London’s ruthless and unforgiving defence held their rivals scoreless for almost seven minutes, by which point the Lions’ advantage had ballooned to 71-50.
London ended the quarter with three back-to-back buckets during a 9-0 run that capped off a joyous afternoon for the 1,170-record crowd and Azania Stewart and her family!