The Gloucester City Queens took the franchise’s maiden victory as they came out on top 70-72 in a thriller against Oaklands Wolves at Oaklands College.
The Queens, led by Maura Fitzpatrick’s 25 points, three rebounds and one assist, stormed to an early lead before taking the half 30-41.
It was a nervous end to the affair between the two teams fighting for their first win of the season, the Queens’ lead going down to just a single point in the dying seconds of the game.
However, a clutch Inma Bautista trip to the free throw line sealed the game for the Queens as it finished 70-72.
The win means the Queens finishes third of four in Group C of their first ever WBBL Cup, and head into their first league match of the season against Cardiff Met Archers on Saturday on a positive note.
It was a strong start to the game for the Queens as they broke away early to a 1-9 lead halfway through the quarter. A late comeback in the first saw the Wolves reel the Queens back in, making it just a one-point game as the quarter ended 15-16.
Midway through the second quarter, the tide seemed to have turned when a Lizzy Harrison three-pointer put the Wolves up 23-20 but a strong reply from the Queens meant a good run of points and the return of the lead as they went into the half up by 11, with a score of 30-41.
It was something of a John Wayne western shootout in the third quarter as both teams drained countless three pointers, going back-and-forth, the Queens leading the contest 47-53 by the end.
An incredibly tense fourth quarter led to some fantastic basketball action - the Wolves bringing the lead back to just a single point with seven seconds left. All Bautista needed was one point from her free throws and with the Wolves missing their three-point heave as the buzzer sounded, the Queens took their first win of the year 70-72.
After the game, head coach Jay Marriott was delighted with the team’s first victory, saying the team did well to stick to the game plan he’d laid out.
“Yeah, it was fantastic to get our first win in franchise history, a great feeling. For us, it was about the performance, preparing for the league, trying a few new things, about integrating Sandra [Hewakowska] who did a great job.
“Overall, I think it was mission accomplished, a good win and a nice test by Oaklands so credit to them as well.”
Marriott also noted that their first league fixture against the Archers will be hard, especially considering both teams have already met this season in their first WBBL Cup match.
“Cardiff is going to be a really tough team, Coach [Stef] Collins has said she’s expecting them to be pushing for a top five position.
“Both teams have had a few more games to figure things out, so I think it’s going to be a really exciting match and hopefully we come out on top.”
The Queens welcome the Archers to Oxstalls Sports Park for the first game of their inaugural WBBL Championship season with tipoff at 7:30pm on Saturday, October 2nd.
Written by Oliver Jones.