Match Report: London Lions vs Tango Bourges-Basket

Lions’ European adventure came to an end in France on Wednesday evening as they went down 96-65 against Tango Bourges.

Mark Clark’s side had stunned the former EuroLeague champions with a 65-64 victory at Crystal Palace as contained the free-scoring French side but with Jo Leedham-Warner prevented from playing by visa restrictions, Lions found the going tough.

The competition’s number one seed outscored the London side by 11 in each of the first two periods and although Clark’s team slowed their scoring down in the second half, there was no way for Lions as their debut European season came to an end.

Azania Stewart and Shanice Beckford-Norton led the way for the visitors with 13 points apiece, with the former adding eight rebounds. Cassie Breen added 11 points, with Kennedy Leonard finishing with six points to go with her ten points, and Holly Winterburn chipping in with nine points.

Keisha Hampton led the way for the hosts with 23 points, while having been held scoreless at Crystal Palace, Bourges’ leading scoring Ilana Rupert finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. The game was won on the boards with the home side out-rebounding Lions 45-30, while the visitors also struggled with their shooting as they went 22-from-60.

Winterburn opened the scoring for what proved to be London’s only lead of the game and although Stewart kept levelled the score at 4-4, the home side reeled off 12 points straight points to take a hold on the game they would never lose. Leonard broke a drought of more than four minutes with a foul shot and Breen hit a triple followed by a jump shot to help Lions stay in touch as they reached the first break trailing 26-15.

Captain Beckford-Norton cut the deficit to single figures with the opening score of the second period but despite Charles draining from downtown Lions trailed 38-20 after four minutes. Breen drained another triple but the home side continued to build their lead and took a 57-35 lead into the locker room at half-time.

It took almost four minutes for Lions to get off the mark in the second half as Charles broke their drought, though the hosts only added three to their tally during that time. Scores from Beckford-Norton and Stewart took the deficit below 20 but despite Lions continuing to shoot well at the foul line, the hosts took a 70-47 lead into the final break.

Bourges scored the first six points of the fourth period before Breen hit another triple but Laetitia Guapo took the lead out to 30 with 6:32 on the clock, and there was no way for Lions as their Europe Cup run came to an end.