Stephanie Gandy dominates as Hatters recover from early deficit to beat Mystics and progress to WBBL Trophy semi-finals.
WBBL Trophy, Quarter-Final
Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 76 (10,35,63) (Gandy 24, Naylor 14, Reese 12)
Manchester Mystics 59 (14,30,44) (Page 23, Moss 14, McLoughlin 8)
Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters have progressed to the WBBL Trophy semi-finals after overcoming a shaky start to beat Manchester Mystics 76-59 at All Saints Sports Centre.
The two teams came into this game in contrasting form, epitomised by the Hatters’ comprehensive win when they met in the league last week. Sheffield has now won four consecutive games, and six in a row at home; while the Mystics have lost four on the bounce, all road games.
But they seemed to cast that form aside in the early exchanges, as in a strong first quarter they restricted the hosts to just 10 points and Shantrell Moss led the way at the offensive end for a 10-14 Manchester lead.
But the Hatters are the second highest scorers in the WBBL and they couldn’t be contained for long, particularly with the league’s leading scorer Helen Naylor stepping up a gear in the second stanza. She had 10 points by half time as the hosts surged ahead with 15 unanswered points midway through the period, winning it 25-16 to take a five point edge into the half time break.
It was Stephanie Gandy that ended the game as the leading scorer, with 24 points, and most of those came in a strong second half. The Hatters put another 28 points on the board in the third quarter, doing much of their damage on the inside, as they typically do, through Gandy and Sky Reese, who finished the game with 12 points.
The Hatters also have the sternest defence in the WBBL, and after holding their visitors to just 14 third quarter points, they headed into the final ten minutes with a 63-44 lead that proved to be unassailable.