Reigning champions Nottingham Wildcats tipped off the defence of their WBBL Championship title by taking down fellow favourites Team Northumbria in an intense 72-66 success on Tyneside.
In a roller-coaster affair, the visitors came up trumps down the stretch as Ashley Harris netted 24 points to help what had been a 12 point deficit in the first-half as Team Northumbria jumped onto the front foot – helped by Alison Gorrell who had a game-high 26 points.
Earlier in the day there were two pieces of history made as the WBBL’s newest franchises both tasted competitive action in the league for the very first time. But, neither Caledonia Pride or Oaklands Wolves could manage a winning start.
Pride were comprehensively beaten 87-37 at Leicester Riders as Great Britain forward Jamila Thomson showcased her quality with a perfect shooting performance as she harvested 16 points from a perfect 8 of 8 from the floor. There was also a debut for Riders’ newest acquisition Aignee Freeland which has given them even more depth and athleticism in the paint.
Wolves made it hard work for Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters, but the visiting team and former WBBL Champions eventually outlasted Oaklands 85-58 after a blistering final quarter and two big showings from Georgia Gayle who had 23 points and Brittany Winborne who finished with 22 points and 18 rebounds on her debut.
Team Northumbria 66 (17,34,49) (Gorrell 26, Fong Lyew Quee 14, Baraut 14)
Nottingham Wildcats 72 (12,32,50) (Harris 24, Benic 12, Hebert 9)
Leicester Riders 87 (16,46,70) (Thompson 16, Smith 14, Vasciunate 11)
Caledonia Pride 37 (8,25,30) (Peacock/Bastian 9, Robb/Purves 4)
Oaklands Wolves 58 (17,29,45) (Nelson 22, Charles 13, Turner 6)
Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 85 (23,38,55) (Gayle 23, Winborne 22, Campbell/Rodriguez 8)
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