The Caledonia Gladiators succumb to the Durham Palatinates 69-67 in a closely tied affair, which went to the wire, down south.
The Gladiators came into today’s game on a three-game win streak, after blowing out the Oaklands Wolves 84-57 last Saturday in Paisley.
The last game for Durham came against the Cardiff Met Archers in Essex on the 7th of January, losing by five in the WBBL Trophy, before that, their last game was a heavy loss to the Sevenoaks Suns on 17th December, 76-49 was the score.
With the lack of recent playing time and the Gladiators beginning a streak, you would have expected them to win this game comfortably, but that wasn’t the case.
To start off, Abbie Wolf won the opening tip and scored the opening basket with a smooth lay-up, Durham then went down the floor and Jessica Wayne, averaging 17.8 points, drained a three to give them the lead.
For the opening minutes, the score was kept low due to both teams playing strong and solid defence, the sides then began trading buckets then the Palatinates’ grabbed a five-point lead, forcing coach Miguel Ortega to call a timeout.
Despite the Gladiators’ best efforts, they trailed by seven after the opening quarter with Durham leading 23-16.
Chantelle Handy grabbed the first basket of the second quarter to get the lead to five after Eliza Brault missed her mid-range attempt.
Durham carried on the intense defence, picking the Gladiators up full court and making them struggle.
In the first half, the Gladiators really struggled to shoot the ball, not one three went in out of ten attempts, relying on two-pointers – which were scored on an efficient 57% – and free throws – 75%.
Abbie Wolf led the way in scoring for the travelling Caledonia, scoring nine points to complement her six rebounds.
Jessica Wayne was the first to reach double digits for the home side, finishing the half with 10 points and six rebounds.
Despite poor shooting from range, the Gladiators went into the second half only down by two, making everything all to play for in the second half.
To kick off an important third quarter, Abbie Wolf drove in for a lay-up, made it to tie the game and got fouled in the process, converting her and-one free throw to give the Gladiators the lead but the Palatinates were too hot to handle as Inma Bautista got the lead back in the favour of the hosts, getting the lead to 10 before the Gladiators scored again.
A very dominant third quarter for Durham dwindled away in the dying minutes, Robyn Lewis drained a shot from downtown – the Gladiators’ first of the day – and the momentum shifted, getting the deficit down to five before the third quarter ended.
In the fourth, everything was still on the table, tough buckets and defence from both sides made it an intense watch as leads were switching and tensions were rising.
With 55 seconds left in the game, Handy drained a three to tie the game, and Ottewill-Soulsby made a strong two-point jumper to gain the lead and give the Durham Palatinates the victory with 32 seconds left to play.
The Gladiators fouled to try to get the ball back, and it worked as Tea Adams got the steal, and passed it to Handy whose three to win the game bounced back off the rim.
In this close game, Abbie Wolf scored a season-high 20 points on 9/14 (64%) shooting, all from inside the three-point range and with no free throws. She also grabbed 12 rebounds to give her a double-double in a really strong performance.
Erin Mcgarrachan also had a great game, with 18 points and 54% from two-pointers.
For the hosts, there was only one standout performer and it was Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby who, in every second of the game, scored 28 points on 50% shooting, including three three-pointers made from three attempts. She also had six rebounds and two assists.
The Gladiators were the more efficient side, besting the Palatinates on field goal percentage and two-point percentage, but the three-point shooting was not pretty as they only hit four out of the 20 shots taken, and with such a close game, you think one or two more made could have really changed it.
Steals and blocks were overwhelmingly in the favour of Caledonia, 15 and 3 respectively to Durham’s nine steals and one block.
The teams were tied on assists at 23 a piece and the Palatinates grabbed more rebounds with 39 to Caledonia’s 33.
This win gives the Palatinates their second win in the WBBL Championship, moving up to 10th ahead of the Manchester Met Mystics and Oaklands Wolves.
For the Gladiators, they stay 4th in the table, two points behind the Sheffield Hatters, who can be overtaken if the Gladiators can overcome the Cardiff Met Archers in the next game at home at the Lagoon Leisure Centre. TICKETS!