The WBBL regular season champions, Nottingham Wildcats, are through to The Molten WBBL Play-Off Final, for the second season in a row, after over-powering Sevenoaks Suns 73-54. They were led by 17 points from Amber Stokes, and a double-double of 12 points and 13 rebounds from Ashley Harris.
Coach Dave Greenaway had spoken about defence in the build-up – Wildcats possessing the best defence in the WBBL, and having restricted Brixton to just 43 in the quarter-final – and they held their visitors to just one score in the opening five minutes of this encounter. That enabled Nottingham to jump out to a 10-3 lead, Stokes and Jessica Hurd sharing eight of those points, becoming 15-4 when Andrea Vackova added five more.
Lauren Clarke hit a three-pointer to get Suns back in it, and that was the story for much of the game. Wildcats scored the first seven points of the second stanza, including a Lisa Greenaway triple, as they shut the Suns out for another three minutes.
But they couldn’t quite shake their visitors off, Sevenoaks finishing the half strongly as Catherine Carr scored four points in an 8-1 push to get back to 32-27. And, despite the lead going back out to double-figures as Stokes herself went into double-digits early in the third period, Suns kept themselves in it from long range as Lauren Clarke and Kaitlyn Lewis connected.
There was a similar occurrence in the decisive fourth quarter, Carr’s three-pointer getting Sevenoaks as close as 56-47 with six minutes to play. But Vicky Gray responded in kind and that proved decisive for Nottingham as it sparked a 17-3 surge that won the game late on, a run capped by another Greenaway triple inside the last minute.
Wildcats will now await the outcome of the second semi-final, between Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters and Team Northumbria, to see who they will face at The O2 Arena next Sunday as they seek to avenge a defeat in last year’s final.
Nottingham Wildcats 73 (17,34,51) (Stokes 17, Harris 12, Diawakana/Hurd 8)
Sevenoaks Suns 54 (10,27,41) (Clarke 17, Carr 13, Lewis/Nikitinaite 9)