WBBL Play-Off Final
London Lions 93-71 Newcastle Eagles (21-16, 45-37, 69-55)
(Lions – Beckford-Norton 30, Leonard 20, Umeh 16; Eagles – Gorrell 30, McVicar 19, Lowe 10)
London Lions have won the WBBL Play-off Final for the first time in club history after over-powering Newcastle Eagles 93-71 at the Morningside Arena in Leicester, live on Sky Sports.
Records tumbled with some amazing performances from the Lions’ stars as Shanice Beckford-Norton tied the highest points total in a Play-off Final with 30 points, picking up the MVP award, and Kennedy Leonard recorded a first ever triple-double in the showpiece game with 20 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.
Lions won all four quarters in what was a competitive game, and despite trailing by double-figures in the first half Eagles came back to tie it at 51 in the third period on Alison Gorrell’s ‘and-one’ play – she also had 30 points to tie the Play-off final record.
But London’s response was immediate and decisive. They hit the next 13 points in an unstoppable surge, as Beckford-Norton made an amazing four-point play and then found Chantel Charles inside, with Stephanie Umeh adding four points as Eagles were held scoreless for four minutes and the lead reached 64-51.
There was no way back from there, as Beckford-Norton hit a big corner three in the fourth period that brought up her 25th point, after Leonard drove baseline for the assist that also broke the record for assists in a Play-off Final, before the lead went through twenty at 87-66 as Cassie Breen scored five in a row.
London add this silverware to their WBBL Trophy success earlier in the season, and Head Coach Mark Clark – who has had a storied career in various roles across British basketball – ranks this among the best:
“This is right up there with winning my first championship back in 1985. The great thing about this one is that it’s the beginning of something, because the organisation wants to do something big in British basketball. Shanice epitomises that, as she was a junior with us in Barking, along with Chantel, and so that completes a cycle.”