WBBL Trophy: Oaklands Wolves struggle in opening day defeat to Leicester Riders
- Credit: Archant
A disappointing second-half showing meant Oaklands Wolves opened the new Women’s British Basketball League season with a 90-58 defeat to Leicester Riders in the WBBL Trophy.
The match is part of a full opening weekend of action from the league, with all games held at the Essex Sport Arena, located at the University of Essex in Colchester.
The feeling before the game was this year could be a season of consolidation for the Wolves, following a fairly turbulent summer off and on the court.
But while the result was disappointing, the performance still had plenty of impressive moments and if Oaklands can pull it together for longer patches, rather than the fleeting glimpses shown, they may yet enjoy another play-off season.
An almost devastating fire back in June had cause mayhem for the entire St Albans-based college as well as the basketball club.
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Off the court was busy too with a number of high-profile departures forcing head coach Lee Ryan to hand call-ups to a number of his talented younger players.
One of them got a start perhaps earlier than planned.
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Kata Fulop, herself coming back after a season plagued by injury last time out, was meant to start but as she lined up for the tip-off, the referee asked her to leave the court and remove some jewellery.
That would keep her out of the action for the entire first quarter but it meant Louise Rouse was thrust into the fray.
She landed two early points but it was Lizzy Harrison who was keeping Wolves in touch with a Leicester side who were being prompted as usual by Brea Elmore.
The Wolves skipper was in fairly ruthless form from outside the three-point arc, landing three out of five attempts in the first half.
And after a slow start, which had seen Oaklands down by nine points at one stage, they clawed their way back and even had a shot to take the lead early in the second quarter.
From there Riders regrouped and it had looked as if the game was done when they pushed 12 points clear.
But with new signing Elyse Kiploks starting to find her feet and her range, the gap at the break was seven points.
The third quarter opened with two big three-pointers from Wolves, one of which was converted to four with a free throw.
However, like the majority of the game, all that was cancelled out with Leicester chipping in with seven points of their own either side and in between them.
And those points were pretty much it too for Oaklands, who were guilty of a number of shot-clock violations as well.
It built up the confidence among the Leicester side who romped into a 20-point lead inside the final minute of the quarter.
But Wolves responded again cutting the gap to just 11 with just over eight minutes to go, Anneke Schluter this time the driving force.
But again they drifted away and by the end of the game, Leicester had proven why they are one of the better teams in the league, winning by over 30.
Wolves will be back in Essex on Sunday when they take on Cardiff Met Archers. The hope will be that they can discover more consistency and land the first victory.
Q1: Oaklands Wolves 17 Leicester Riders 23
Q2: Oaklands Wolves 39 Leicester Riders 46
Q3: Oaklands Wolves 49 Leicester Riders 67
Q4: Oaklands Wolves 58 Leicester Riders 90