Pride win second half as they push champions close

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Caledonia Pride may not have started off 2017 with their first WBBL win but there were enough positives about their 63-49 defeat by champions Notts Wildcats at Oriam at the weekend to suggest the first success cannot be too far off.

Not only did they restrict the league leaders to a margin of 14 points, Pride also won the second half 24-22 after trailing 41-25 at half-time.

The difference between the teams in the end came down to turnovers, Pride having 31 to Wildcats 23.

Some of that, Pride coach Bart Wengers insisted, was down to fatigue as he had been working the team hard since their return from the Christmas break in preparation for games later in their schedule while Wildcats were preparing for the WBBL Cup Final this coming weekend.

Hannah Peacock, Pride’s top scorer with 15 points as well taking nine rebounds, was also guilty of causing 13 turnovers, some undoubtedly due to her exertions in the gym last week.

But on the positive side were her two imperious drives to the basket which the big visiting centres were unable to stop and seven from eight converted free throws.

Just behind her with 14 points, though clearly not yet back to full fitness due to the lingering effects of a virus, was American centre Tricia Oakes who added nine rebounds and two blocks.

Swing guard Natalie Bastian added nine points and Sarah Thomson 10 rebounds while Robin Lewis played another long 36-minute stint at point guard, there being no obvious relief in the continued absence of the injured Hilary Wood.

The big Wildcats team were best served by the impressive Ashley Harris, who scored 19 points and nine rebounds, while Siobhan Prior added 13 points and six steals, Hannah Shaw 12 points and Melissa Mendes eight points and five steals.

Boroughmuir Blaze, who had hoped to promote their men’s home tie in the BBL Trophy against Plymouth Raiders as a double header with the Pride game, were far from disgraced in going down 108-74 at the Crags the following day.

A lively first quarter ended with the visitors up 31-21 and Blaze narrowed the gap to nine before turning round 58-41 down at half-time.

Lithuanian Tomas Cicenas top-scored with 21 points, Blaze skipper Eoghann Dover adding 20 and Matt Kruczynski 11.