London Lions took a giant step towards winning the WBBL regular season title with a 67-58 victory against Sevenoaks Suns, on Friday night.
Captain Shanice Beckford-Norton led by example as she led Mark Clark’s team with 15 points along with three assists, rebounds and steals as they ended Suns’ unbeaten start to the league season.
It was Lions’ 26th consecutive victory in all WBBL games, a run that stretches back to last season when they clinched the play-off crowd, and set a new record for the competition.
Jo Leedham finished with 14 points six rebounds, three assists and as many steals while Holly Winterburn added 12 points, seven boards and three assists. But it was a balanced scoring effort for the the home side, who were without Azania Stewart due to a concussion suffered in last week’s WBBL Trophy final success against the Suns, with eight players getting on the scoresheet.
On a night where Lions held current WBBL MVP Cat Carr to 11 points, Suns were led by Frankie Wurtz as she finished with a 17 point, 12 rebound double-double but the visitors were cold from outside the arc as they missed all 12 three points shot.
A repeat of last week’s blowout 72-36 victory for Lions was never likely, and Suns scored the first six points before Winterburn hit a pair at the foul line to get the hosts off the mark and that sparked an 11-2 end to the period as Cassie Breen’s jump shot gave the home side a three point lead at the first break.
Steph Umeh hit a pair at the foul line to open the second period and Breen drained from downtown as Lions started with a 7-1 run before Kennedy Leonard made it an 11-point game at the five minute mark with a lay-up.
Suns replied with five unanswered points before Umeh’s dunk got her team-mates on their feet, and despite a late Suns rally the Lions went into half-time with a 33-28 lead.
Leedham opened the second half scoring before Leonard’s triple made it a double-digit lead again. Shequilla Joseph also drained from downtown before Carr sparked a 9-0 run to get her side back within a single basket.
Beckford-Norton’s jumper made it 51-45 going into the fourth period and Joseph made it a nine point game as she drained another trey 24 seconds after the restart.
Leedham kept Lions ahead with a trey before Joseph converted a nice jump shot with exactly 200 seconds on the clock to put the home side 62-53 ahead.
Renee Bush went one-from-two at the foul line from Suns, but Winterburn replied with a jump shot before Leedham’s triple made it a 13-point game with a minute remaining and effectively season a key victory for the home side.