Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters scooped their first Betty Codona Classic title after a stunning last quarter carried them past defending champions Nottingham Wildcats.
Betty Codona Classic Final
Nottingham Wildcats 73 (17,39,54) (Reynolds 26, Prior 12, Pressley 12)
Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 79 (14,26,50) (Gandy 26, Hutchinson 16, Torres 13)
Trailing by double-digits during the game at various stages, it had looked like the tournament hosts might be heading for disappointment, but they dug deep to overcome Wildcats 79-73 with a late surge to turn the game on its head.
Great Britain star Steph Gandy was claimed a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds for Hatters, but playmaker Lisa Hutchinson was to eventually prove the catalyst for victory.
Wildcats had been in the ascendency during the opening half, with an Ines Ferreira three-pointer from corner and nice skip to the hoop by Chantelle Pressley handing them the early advantage at 12-4 as Hatters started in sluggish fashion offensively.
They eventually sparked into life and by the end of the opening quarter, had reduced the deficit to make it a one point game with Wildcats 17-14 ahead.
Pressley was still causing problems for the tournament hosts under the basket and a nice ‘And-1’ play followed by a free-throw from Carmen Reynolds gave Wildcats a 25-18 advantage approaching the midway point of the contest.
It was then a first double-digit lead for Nottingham via a basket from Lisa Roberts and minutes later, Gill Baird and Carmen Reynolds dropped big triples from way deep to give Wildcats a 39-26 lead at the interval.
The Hatters were turning the ball over too much and struggling against some impressive Wildcats defence but came out with renewed focus.
A fast-break score by Gandy got Hatters back into the game at 41-35 as they also cranked up their defensive effort.
A three from Hutchinson near the end of the third helped Hatters get to within a point at 51-50, but another three from Reynolds got Wildcats back on an upward curve heading into the last quarter.
Hutchinson produced some excellent play for Hatters and it was Georgie Gayle who got them on level terms at 64-64 with a three-pointer.
Hatters sensed victory and weren’t going to allow the chance to pass up silverware as they continued their late renaissance with a series of fast break scores and free-throws with Gandy leading the way as Wildcats disintegrating down the stretch.
Carmen Reynolds tried her hardest to get Wildcats through with 26 points and 10 rebounds.