Lions booked a place in the WBBL Play-off final with a 104-59 victory against a stubborn Caledonia Pride at the Copper Box, on Sunday.
Mark Clark’s side never looked back after scoring the first seven points of the game and will meet league and WBBL Trophy runners-up Sevenoaks Suns at the O2 next Sunday as they look to become the first side in WBBL history to complete a perfect season.
Holly Winterburn was on fire as she poured in 21 first half points on her way to a 29-point, seven rebound, three assists game. Captain Shanice Beckford-Norton came off the bench to add 19 points in as many minutes, finishing with five assists and four rebounds.
Jo Leedham missed a double-double by a single rebound, hitting 13 points, while Kennedy Leonard also went close to a double-double with 11 points and nine assists. The visitors were led by Laken James’ 23 points four assists and as many boards, but were out-rebounded 47-29 by a Lions side who dished out an impressive 35 assists.
Azania Stewart won the tip for Linos and Leedham opened the scoring off a Winterburn assist before Winterburn hit a triple and then a jump shot before Pride finally got on the scoreboard. Despite Leedham picking up two fouls, Winterburn’s tiple off a screen gave London a 14-6 lead at the five minute mark.
Winterburn took her tally to ten points but James replied from downtown before :Leedham joined in the fun from the Land of Plenty and despite a James triple, Beckford-Norton’s basket sent Lions into the first break leading 30-18.
James hit a long two to open the second period only to see a rare Leonard triple extend the hosts lead before Cassie Breen also hit a trademark trey before going two-from-three at the foul line after being clattered taking another shot from downtown.
A lovely Leedham pass to Shequila Joseph kept the scoreboard ticking over before Chantel Charles beat the shot clock with a triple off another Leedham assist to force a Pride timeout with the hosts leading 47-30 and 5:41 remaining in the first half.
Winterburn – somehow – beat the shot clock with a triple after Clark’s timeout to take her tally to 18 and Steph Umeh also scored as the 24-second time expired before Leonard hit a free-throw and then scored off her miss from the second to give London a 59-35 lead going into the locker room..
Stewart’s and-one made it a 25-point game with the opening score of the second half and Beckford-Norton took the lead out to 30 with pair of free-throws at the 3:20 mark. The hosts continued their domination of the game, and a lovely lay-up from Leedham sent them into the final break leading 82-51
A pair of Beckford-Norton drives to the basket opened the fourth period and the Lions captain continued to terrorise the visitors defence, converting a pair at the line after being fouled.
Leedham took her tally to 13 points with a top-of-the-key triple to take the lead up to 40 before Winterburn scored another from downtown and Winterburn’s trey brought the century mark up with 4:21 on the clock.
Another Leonard trey wrapped up the scoring as Lions progressed to their third final of the season and continued their push for a record breaking season.