London Lions
Castors Braine

London Lions women pulled off the biggest victory in their history as Castors Braine were beaten 69-63 in the FIBA Women’s EuroCup on Wednesday night.

Mark Clark’s side produced a stunning fourth period to defeat the Belgium League champions and group favourites to improve their record to 2&1 and record their first home European victory.

Holly Winterburn led the home side’s scoring with 15 points to go with eight assists and five rebounds. Shanice Beckford-Norton  started in place of the injured Jo Leedham and produced a captain’s performance with some big shots down the stretch as she finished with 14 points, eight boards and two steals. Kennedy Leonard had five assists to go with her 13 points in her 40 minutes

Cassie Breen provided some much needed energy off the bench, finishing with 11 points and a couple of big rebounds in 16.5 minutes, while centre Azania Stewart had eight boards and five assists to go with her ten points. Asling Konig and Valerieya Berezhynska had 16 points each, the latter adding ten boards, but both shot 6-from-17 as their team were out-shot 36 percent to 47 by the Linos with the hosts also out-rebounding them 41-30.

The visitors scored within five seconds of winning the tip but it proved to be an even first period, with Norton’s drive to the basket giving Lions a 10-8 lead after five minutes before the visitors shading the rest of the quarter as Konig sent them into the first break 18-16 ahead.

Braine started the second half strongly, forcing a couple of turnovers from the hosts before Sam Van Buggenhout hit a triple to make it 26-21. Winterburn replied from downtown and Stewart kept the home side in the game.

Konig hit a triple to make it a seven point game but it was Beckford-Norton’s lay-up off Leonard’s assist which launched a 12-0 run from the hosts, and Leonard hit a triple as Lions went into the locker room with a 38-33 lead.

That lead quickly evaporated as a series of turnovers and poor shot selection saw Braine take a 41-40 and forced a timeout from Clark. The move didn’t work immediately with Berezhynska hitting a trey but Lions stayed in the game Breen scoring from downtown and Leonard beat the clock to sink a three and send the teams into the final break tied at 54.

Breen gave a clue of what was to come as she sunk a trey to open the fourth period and with Winterburn converting a lay-up the home side never trailed in the final frame.  After the score had been stuck on 64-58 for three minutes, Lions forced a turnover before Beckford-Norton sunk from the Land of Plenty to put the hosts up by nine with four minutes on the clock.

There was no way back for the visitors, and Charles took the lead into the double figures before Clark’s team closed out a fine win.

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