Despite being understrength, Mansfield Giants’ women got their season off to a winning start with a 68-32 home success against Leicester Riders in the National Trophy.
Coach Jo Richards said: “It’s fair to say, we’ve not had the preparation time we would’ve liked going into this game, but the girls put 100 per cent into it and we have a good core of players this year with strength in depth which is something we have traditionally lacked.
“The team are bonding well off court and its great to see the newer members of the team fitting in well to our style of play.
“We have a few weeks now to re-group and work on some things before our next game. But with a full team, I think we could do some damage this season.”
Giants team set out to make their mark from the tip, exploding into a 14-3 lead on Saturday.
The team, minus four key players, used their size and experience to their advantage to control the game in true Giants style from the outset.
However, with the quick duo of Katy Taylor and new addition Steph Jones pressuring the ball on defence, Riders were forced into some early turnovers which Giants took full advantage of in the early stages.
From there on Giants remained on top, using the strength of Charlie Levitt and Jade Clemeson to dominate inside, backed up by some sharp shooting on the wing from Alison Bridge.
During the second half, it was 16-year-old Chloe Gaynor who took the spotlight, finding her confidence to score eight straight points, forcing Riders to call a time-out to adjust.
With some long range shooting and renewed composure, Riders began to make a brief comeback.
But Giants strength in depth proved too much, with Jo Richards coming in off the bench after an 18-month absence due to injury, adding points to the board.
As Riders began to tire, Giants stopped them from scoring during the last four minutes of the game, with Heather Clarke drawing down some big rebounds for Giants to close out the game.
This win secures the team a second round tie against Northampton Lightning on 9th November.