Gloucester City Queens made it back-to-back victories as they got revenge against Cardiff Met Archers in their first WBBL Championship game at Oxstalls Arena last night.
Despite being down 32-27 at half-time, a resurgent comeback came in the third quarter as the Queens went up 51-49 and did not give up the lead again.
Captain Maura Fitzpatrick led the line for the Queens with 28 points, 14 rebounds and three steals as they came away with a 73-60 win.
Resilient defence and managing the Archers’ quick passing meant the first win of the WBBL season for the Queens, with a trip to Durham Palatinates next weekend to look forward to.
A quick start out of the blocks saw the Queens go into a 9-2 lead early in the first, with captain Fitzpatrick dropping 10 points for an eventual 19-14 score by the end of the quarter.
However, it was Cardiff who made an equally strong start in the second quarter - limiting the Queens to eight second quarter points as well as 11 first-half points from Shannon Hatch were key to a 32-27 lead at half-time.
A back-and-forth third quarter saw plenty of action, with the Queens regaining the lead, outscoring the Archers by seven points in the quarter, to finish 51-49 up by the start of the fourth.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Queens extended their lead to 12 points, now with a 65-53 lead. With the game winding down, the home side managed to stave off an Archers fightback and come away with a 73-60 victory.
After the game, Fitzpatrick was delighted with the win and was grateful for the team’s payback over the Archers.
“I’m so happy, I don’t think you could’ve asked more out of the team today.
“Last time we played them, we lost by seven which was very disappointing for us but to come into today as a first regular season game and at home, I couldn’t be happier with how it went.
“I think today also really showed the amount of talent we have; we definitely have stuff to work on, but this win will make us feel really confident in the long run.”
New signing Bianca Osas-Maxwell came off the bench for the Queens to grab eight rebounds and put up a block, the day on which she’d signed.
“I’m just happy I’m able to play - I came straight from London, I’m running on two hours of sleep, but I just said, ‘Let’s play, let’s hoop.’ I think I can do a lot better, so people need to watch out over these next few games.
“I feel like we’re a very good team, no one knows us truly as a unit, so I think we’re going to shock a lot of people, not just in the city but around the league as well.”
Head coach Jay Marriott was delighted with the win and expressed his satisfaction with proving the team is more than just scoring points.
“I said last week that the key to this season was just to keep getting better and better, and we definitely were better today.
“Big credit to Cardiff, they played really well but we executed plays at the right time, we showed our strength, our fitness and our physicality which we’d struggled to put together in the WBBL Cup.
“To come away with a win, on opening night in front of the home fans, it’s certainly something special.”
The Queens go on the road to Durham Palatinates at the Sports and Wellbeing Park next Saturday on October 9th with tip-off at 13:00.
Written by Oliver Jones.