Gloucester City Queens dropped their first game of the season as they lost 66-69 to Manchester Met Mystics despite a dramatic fourth quarter comeback at Oxstalls Sports Park.
The Queens found themselves down by 16 with just three minutes to go but a stunning display of three-point shooting meant the game narrowed down to just three points with 22 seconds left.
Captain Maura Fitzpatrick’s 26 points, six rebounds and three assists alongside Melita Emanuel-Carr’s 18 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists and four steals were not enough to pull the home side ahead late on.
The loss means the Queens will look ahead to next weekend’s game against London Lions at Barking Abbey School with a chance to rebound well and get back to winning ways.
It was a sharp start to the first quarter for the Queens, who shot out to a six-point lead, but a turn of momentum midway through the period saw the Mystics take a 18-21 lead.
The Queens looked slow for much of the second quarter, a host of missed three-pointers meant the Mystics extended their lead to seven as they took the half 27-34.
However, the gap was back down to four by the end of the third quarter as some to-and-fro action and some impressive scoring from Fitzpatrick allowed the home side to reduce the deficit to 41-45.
A back-and-forth quarter to its most literal sense was what followed - down by 16 with 3:22 left on the game clock, the Queens looked to be down and out with the score at 48-64. Even so, a bizarre turn of momentum was almost enough to drag the Queens over the finishing line ahead.
Four consecutive three pointers brought the score to 65-69 with just 21 seconds to go. A technical foul on Mystics coach Geoff Jones meant a Marlee Ball free throw reduced the gap to just three but Queens guard Inma Bautista couldn’t convert the game-tying three as the Queens lost their first game of the season in heart-breaking fashion.
After the game, head coach Jay Marriott was frustrated but commended the team’s bravery towards the end of the game.
“Yeah, we’re obviously disappointed to lose because we’re all competitors but we’ve lost to a perennial playoff team.
“I know what shooting droughts look like, I played professionally for 10 years, and you just need to be confident and brave enough to step up and take the next shot.
“Right now, we’re ‘Live and Die by the three’ a bit too much but then that got us back into the game so we can’t necessarily complain.”
Ahead of next week’s match against the Lions, Marriott is wary of the danger the Queens face but will look at it more like a learning experience for his young squad.
“It’s definitely going to be a tough game. We’re looking at it like we have nothing to lose going in, and a lot of people, especially in the media, think that when you go to London, you’re going to come off worse.
“For us though, we just need to keep working on our performances. We’re a little bit up and down at the minute, today you saw the worst of us but then in the fourth quarter, you also saw the best of us.”
Team GB star Emanuel-Carr believes the last section of the game proves just how good the team can play but it needs to come across the whole game rather than one period.
“I think we all gel well together and that last three minutes definitely show that, but it’s about not getting into those situations in the first place so that’s a lesson learnt, and we’ll work on that for the future.
“I’m so grateful to be back on the court playing and I try to play like it’s my last game every game. I’m still not back to full fitness just yet but I’m excited for what’s to come.”
The Queens travel to Barking Abbey School to play the Lions next Sunday with tipoff at 1:00pm.
Written by Oliver Jones.