Mansfield Giants’ women suffered their first defeat of 2015 on Saturday, losing 76-64 at home to a powerful Sheffield Hatters, who currently hold the best record in the Basketball England Northern League and were out for revenge.
Hatters have only been beaten once all season, which was at the hands of the Giants earlier in the season when Mansfield edged home by a single point in a nailbiting finish.
Once again Giants were out to prove their competitiveness, storming in front with Chloe Gaynor scoring six points in the opening minutes to put Hatters on the back foot.
The team displayed some tough defence throughout the quarter, forcing Hatters to shoot from outside while drawing the contact themselves on the offensive end and easing into a 18-10 lead.
The second quarter saw one of the team’s finest offensive displays with six players all contributing to the scoresheet.
Jade Clemenson stepped on to dominate inside while Katy Taylor dropped back-to-back threes.
It was then that new signing from Nottingham Wildcats, 17-year-old Megan Geoghegan stepped on court to immediately finish a stunning give-and-go between herself and fellow junior Gaynor.
However, Hatters had also stepped up a gear, knocking down some fine long range shots through rising GB Junior Georgia Gayle leading them to win the quarter 23-22.
Moving into the second half, Giants knew they would have a fight on their hands as Hatters saw their opportunity to run the floor and make up some points.
However, experienced Giants centre Charlotte Levitt teamed up with point guard Steph Jones to dominate the scoring with Hatters going into the final quarter with a two-point lead.
From there on Giants seemed to be playing catch-up, with the young Sheffield side moving the ball well to once again fire home some big outside shots and begin to pull a lead away.
Despite a tough final quarter, the team fought to the end and Giants coach Jo Richards said: “We managed to take control right from the tip today and displayed some of our best offensive presence of the season.
“Our defensive intensity keeps improving game on game and unfortunately we just ran out of steam at the end.
“I think the whole team will leave this game feeling positive with our performance. We were missing some key players, including our captain Alison Bridge, and we’ll look to regain our winning form against Loughborough on the road next weekend.”
Giants scorers: Jones 23, Gaynor 20, Taylor 9.
Mansfield Giant’s scheduled home men’s clash with Derby Trailblazers was cancelled as a mark of respect following the sudden death of Derby’s former American coach Clarence Wiggins at the age of 58. A memorial service for him at Alvaston’s Noel-Baker School on Saturday night attracted over 1,200 people.
This Saturday Mansfield’s men travel to Hull Wasps (6pm) while on Sunday the women’s team are away to Loughborough Student Riders II (3pm).