Naomi Campbell and Helen Naylor took a short break from the Hatters to fulfill representative duties as part of the English Universities team in the BUCS Home Nations tournament, held in Edinburgh last week. Naylor was competing for the 6th time, whilst Campbell making it her 2nd year in a row. The side entered the team with odds stacked against them with a team roster of just 7 players for a 3 game back-to-back tournament, it was never going to be easy.
Day 1 saw the side face Ireland, where the team took an easy 90-30 victory as the perfect opportunity to find their feet and get used to playing as a unit, having all come form different university sides. Day 2 was a greatly anticipated game as they faced Wales who were a strong, well gelled unit containing a high percentage of Cardiff University players including GB point guard Stef Collins. Campbell started the game scoring the first 6 points, assisted by Naylor for 4 of them. It was clear from the offset that the pairing of Naylor and Campbell was going to be key to the teams offensive performance. Defensively, England worked well on and off the ball, working particularly effective in a zone to avoid mismatches with a much quicker opposition. England convincingly secured the victory 71-53 with Naylor finishing on 22points and Campbell with 20.
The final match was England vs. Scotland, with the home side being well supported in Edinburgh and a rather tired England side, the game was going to be a tough battle to determine who was to take the Home Nation title! England started out in a zone following their prior game’s success, however, Edinburgh drained several 3’s causing a lot of damage. After a level pegging first quarter, England switched to man where Campbell and Naylor matched up to two of Scotland’s biggest threats defensively as they were a much taller side than England. The game was never pretty with teams exchanging baskets. 2 of the England side picked up early fouls meaning the same 5 players were left on the court to try and dig out the win. It wasn’t until the closing stages of the final quarter that some good breaks by England from defensive stops saw the game be won. England clinched the Home Nations title by just 8 points! Naylor was also named tournament MVP for the second consecutive year as teams failed to contain her!