WBBL Play-Off Semi Finals
Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 82 (24,42,61) (Gandy 30, Torres 16, Naylor 10)
Barking Abbey Crusaders 63 (14,32,48) (Brantlova 13, Wabara 13, Adebayo 12)
WBBL Championship winners Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters are into the Play-Off Final after an 82-63 victory over Barking Abbey Crusaders. They were powered to their 23rd successive win – a run dating back to October – by league MVP Stephanie Gandy, who hit 30 points to lead the Hatters for the sixth time in the last seven games.
Hatters had much the better of Crusaders in the regular season, winning both league games by double-figures, and they did the damage early on in this Semi Final and established such a margin in the first quarter, with Gandy leading the way to an early 24-14 lead.
Crusaders – who finished sixth in the league and had already knocked out one higher seed on their way to this point – proved hard to shake off, as Evelyn Adebayo hit nine first half points to ensure that margin didn’t grow. But she couldn’t match Gandy’s 16 first half points, the score at 42-32.
The Hatters didn’t let their visitors close the gap in the third quarter and edged further ahead, to 61-48, before Spanish forward Estela Royo Torres, who led the league in points per minute this season, took over to hit ten second half points as they won the fourth quarter comfortably.
The Hatters now look to complete a WBBL treble – having also won the Trophy in January – as they move on to face the winners of Sunday’s East Midlands derby between Leicester Riders and Nottingham Wildcats at the University of Worcester Arena on Sunday 26 April.