The Caledonia Gladiators traveled to the Vertu Motors Arena to face the Newcastle Eagles in a highly anticipated WBBL matchup. The home side were looking to bounce back after a tough loss on the road to the Essex Rebels, while the Gladiators were aiming to continue their winning ways after a hard-fought victory over Durham Palatinates, and of course, the record-breaking win in London.
Téa Adams remained out out action for Miguel Ortega’s side – she had picked up a shoulder injury during the historic victory over London Lions in the Capital a few weeks ago.
The game started out evenly matched, trading baskets in the first couple of minutes, with Chantelle Handy picking up the first points after Abbie Wolf won the opening tip. Both sides’ defense proved particularly impressive, limiting the game’s scoring opportunities and forcing turnovers throughout the first quarter, resulting in a low scoring start. After ten minutes, the visitors established an early edge, going ahead towards the end of the ten minutes and leading by 3 points, 10-13.
In the second quarter, the travelling side began to pull away slightly, taking advantage of well-played possessions. Gladiators remained dominant in terms of blocked shots and rebounds, allowing for them to push forward, despite Eagles’ fight back which eventually brought them totally back into the game. Caledonia’s offense was led by captain Erin McGarrachan, who scored a game-high 13-points in the first half, assisting the Scots to a tie game, 26-26, going into the locker rooms.
Both teams came into the second half determined to clinch a lead. However, Eagles were the side to take advantage first. Their defense improved significantly, holding Caledonia to just 3 points in the first five minutes, and 9 across the entire quarter. The teams went into the final ten minutes with a scoreline of 35-39.
The fourth quarter was a tense affair, with both teams fighting tooth and nail for every basket. The Eagles managed to maintain their lead for much of the quarter, expanding it to nine points with five to go. Despite huge efforts from Miguel Ortega’s side, and a few hopeful possessions on both ends of the floor, it wasn’t to be, as the Eagles came out 54-49 victors.
Erin McGarrachan was a standout player throughout the game, leading her team to the win with a game-high 20 points and 7 rebounds which awarded her the team MVP. Meanwhile, recent GB retiree Chantelle Handy contributed 17 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
For the Eagles, Marina Fernandez led the way with 12 points and 3 assists.
In the end, it was a thrilling matchup between two teams. The Eagles bounced back after their Rebels defeat, proving they can compete with the top teams in the country.
Next up, the Scottish side face Oaklands Wolves on the road on Saturday. Seven days after that, they welcome Nottingham Wildcats to town in the WBBL Championship, with tickets not yet available.