Oaklands Wolves get WBBL season up and running with dominant defensive display against Essex Rebels
PUBLISHED: 13:48 17 December 2018
It's been a long time coming but Oaklands Wolves earned a well-deserved first success of the Women's British Basketball League season.
The Oaklands College-based side delighted their vociferous home support with a 62-43 win over Essex Rebels.
They have been steadily improving over their last three outings without getting their just rewards but head coach Lee Ryan believes this could be the start of far better fortunes.
He said: “It’s great to finally get off the mark, the players have been working hard for this moment and it’s well overdue.
“Defensive performances like we showed [against the Rebels] will be the key to move up the league.
“We are still not fully clicking offensively but getting stops gives us a foundation in every game.”
The match was a first meeting between the Wolves, now in their third season in basketball’s top flight, and their new east region rivals.
And it heralds a run of six games against sides all battling to get into the top eight and the end-of-season play-offs.
It began with a slow start in terms of scoring with Essex turning round at the end of the first quarter leading 13-10.
But a run of eight unanswered points in the second, with Tia Freeman scoring six of them, was followed by an equivalent run in the third quarter sparked by three-pointers from Meg Pritchard and Beth Sarson.
It gave Wolves a 43-35 advantage going into the final period and that drove the point home to win by 19.
Lizzy Harrison top-scored for the home side with 18 while Freeman finished on 16 as the pair accounted for over half the Wolves’ points.
Freeman also helped herself to eight rebounds and four steals.
The key stat though as Ryan pointed out was the defence.
Wolves held the Rebels to just 24 per cent shooting from the field and crucially, despite being heavily out-rebounded, they scored 26 points from the massive 32 turnovers that their intense defence forced.
Oaklands are on the road to Durham Palatinates on Saturday in the final game before the Christmas break.
They return to the Sportszone on January 5 when BA London Lions are the visitors.