Nottingham Wildcats have regained outright leadership of the WBBL Championship table after overpowering Leicester Riders 91-64 in the East Midlands derby on Saturday. It leaves the Wildcats unbeaten against their rivals in five WBBL meetings – this one their biggest win – and on an unbeaten 12-0 for the season.
The league-leaders set about their work early at the Leicester Community Sports Arena, with Ashley Harris scoring twice in a burst of eight unanswered points that gave them an early 18-8 lead, holding the Riders scoreless for more than three minutes and forcing a 24 second turnover.
And Harris opened the second stanza with consecutive scores, the latter an ‘and-one’ play, in what became an 11-0 run and another four scoreless minutes for the hosts, as the WBBL’s fiercest defence came to the fore, making it 31-14.
Riders – who came into the game on back-to-back wins – ended the half with a 7-2 run, including a Georgia Jones triple, and narrowed the gap to ten when she opened the third period with another one.
But it was as close as they would get, as Harris took over by scoring nine points in an immediate 15-3 surge in response. And when Andrea Vackova added a three-pointer, the score was 63-37 with four minutes to play in the third.
There was no way back for Leicester, as the lead peaked at 76-48 on a Harris three-pointer, before finishing one-point better-off than their previous biggest win in the East Midlands derby.
Harris was the standout, with a massive double-double of 31 points and 15 rebounds, in a game that saw all five of Wildcats’ starters finish in double-figures, including a 17 point and 8 rebound haul for Amber Stokes.
Leicester Riders 64 (14,29,45) (Jones 22, Smith 14, Campbell 9)
Nottingham Wildcats 91 (20,42,69) (Harris 31, Stokes 17, Prior/Vackova 11)