Bobcats lose out in tight encounter

IPSWICH Bobcats opened their Women's Basketball National League campaign with a long journey to Northumberland to play last season's champions Tyne and Wear.

IPSWICH Bobcats opened their Women's Basketball National League campaign with a long journey to Northumberland to play last season's champions Tyne and Wear.

In a keenly-contested encounter Tyne and Wear came out on top with a 91-78 win, although the margin of victory was somewhat flattering.

The journey to the North East proved to be an adventure in itself with two horrendous traffic jams delaying the Bobcats' arrival by over an hour, which was not ideal preparation for such a tough game.

However, it soon became apparent as the game started that it was going to be a battle of contrasting styles with Tyne and Wear very much a small quick side while the Bobcats were physically much stronger.

The experienced Laura Shemming got the first points on the board for the Bobcats and after four minutes the teams were level at 10-10.

Tyne and Wear were being led by the vastly experienced and talented Hayes while the main threat to the Bobcats was coming from the quicksilver American guard Brown, who notched 12 first-quarter points.

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This was answered by the Bobcats Jessica Gray with 13 points of her own. Tyne and Wear finished the quarter leading 29-21 thanks to the excellent outside shooting of Zoe Vickers.

The second quarter saw both teams step up the defence, resulting in many fouls being controversially called by the match officials.

This had a profound effect on the Bobcats as Gray picked up her fourth foul midway through the quarter and gave coach Elaine Miller no option but to put her on the bench.

However, the team rallied with points from Kirsty Clarke, Catherine MacLean, Natalie Field and Kayleigh Read to trail by nine at the end of the half.

The third quarter saw the Bobcats settle into good rhythm with Shemming dominant on offence and gradually the lead was pegged back.

After six minutes the deficit was down to three with the Bobcats dictating the pace of the game and by the time the quarter finished they had a 59-57 lead to set up what everybody thought was to be an exciting final quarter.

However, with only a minute remaining in this quarter Shemming got a very nasty knock in the face, resulting in her leaving to go to hospital and putting added pressure on the team to perform without her.

The final quarter saw Gray return to the action but with herself and Kirsty Clark in foul trouble, defence was going to be a problem.

Baskets were traded with Gray dominant at one end and Brown and Hayes exploiting the situation at the other.

Tyne and Wear led by two with two minutes left with an exciting climax on the cards when Gray was inexplicably fouled out of the game.

The resultant free throws from the foul and technical – given against the bench – gave the home team the advantage they required.

The Bobcats failed to make any further impression and Tyne and Wear sealed victory.

The Bobcats can take heart from this experience considering the difficulties of the journey up and match officials that were a little off the pace of the game.

Tyne and Wear are a good side and will not lose too many matches provided they avoid injury problems.

The Bobcats are confident they can bounce back when they entertain Oxford SheDevils at Maidenhall in their next outing.

Players & Scores:

BOBCATS: Clark 10, Wood 1, Shemming 20, Read 4, Field 2, Gray 29, MacLean 12, Lambert & Button.

TYNE & WEAR: Crawford 4, Sidey 4, Hayes 19, Brown 30, McMurray 4, Vickers 26, English 4

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