Suns notch Cup victory as Hatters, Lions, Riders, Queens and Wolves make winning Championship starts.

WBBL Cup Group D

Sevenoaks Suns 79-59 Essex Rebels (22-17, 46-32, 70-43)
(Suns – Carr 29, Busch 13, Koppl 12; Rebels – Waithe 18, Freeman 11, Haines 11)

WBBL Championship

Sheffield Hatters 96-63 Durham Palatinates (29-19, 52-39, 71-48)
(Hatters – Jamison-Myers 24, Naylor 21, Gayle 20; Palatinates – Hurtado Barbeito 21, Bennett 9, Elderkin 8)

Caledonia Pride 48-102 London Lions (14-26, 26-58, 38-78)
(Pride – Ranger 21, Phillips 10, Tweedie 6; Lions – Winterburn 22, Leonard 20, Umeh 14)

Newcastle Eagles 64-77 Oaklands Wolves (17-26, 30-40, 50-52)
(Eagles – Horton 26, McVicar 12, Kelshaw 12; Wolves – Harrison 23, Quick 20, Karasaite 9)

Leicester Riders 55-53 Nottingham Wildcats (17-15, 27-27, 38-43)
(Riders – Robb 15, Stone 9, Jennings 8; Wildcats – Edmonds 13, Pannell 11, Nicholas 10)

Gloucester City Queens 73-60 Cardiff Met Archers (19-14, 27-32, 51-49)
(Queens – Fitzpatrick 28, Emanuel-Carr 14, Abbott 13; Archers – Molnar 17, Hatch 15, Marchizotti 10)

In the only WBBL Cup action of the day, last season’s finalists the Sevenoaks Suns welcomed Tom Sadler’s Essex Rebels to Surrey Sports Park as both sides looked to get their first wins in Pool action.

The Rebels were missing the Splash Sisters, Ashleigh Munns and Andrea Kohlhaas, Lucrezia Costa and new signing Claire Paxton, but they still put up a strong fight in the opening quarter as they trailed the full-strength Suns by just five after the opening 10 minutes.

Reigning WBBL MVP Cat Carr was at her best today as she scored the first nine points for the Suns, before pulling them away from the Rebels in the second quarter to end the first half with a whopping 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, stretching Sevenoaks’ lead to 14.

Despite the absence of four key players, Megan Haines was a real bright spark for the Rebels in the first half as she shot an efficient nine points from the floor, but the Suns continued to pull away after the break, eventually securing a 20-point win behind Carr’s irrepressible performance as she finished with 29 points, 17 boards and nine assists.

In the WBBL Championship, Sheffield Hatters got the day’s action underway and continued the incredible form they’ve shown in pre-season and the WBBL Cup by putting on a dominant defensive performance against Durham Palatinates.

The intensity from Vanessa Ellis’ side was suffocating at times for the visitors as the Hatters applied relentless full-court pressure led by Rebecca Cardenas, leading all starters to secure at least one steal during the opening 15 minutes, and Cardenas would eventually finish with five overall.

Helen Naylor and Nyilah Jamison-Myers contributed big scoring numbers on the interior for the Hatters, complimented by the typical shooting prowess of the likes of Georgia Gayle on the perimeter, whereas it was lead guard Goretti Hurtado Barbeito who led the way for Durham as she was the only Palatinate in double-figures.

Sheffield ramped up the pressure even further in the second half as they held the visitors to just nine points in the third period, outscoring the Palatinates by 10 before doing the same again with a 25-15 final quarter to secure a 33-point win.

Up in Scotland, the London Lions showed no fatigue from their hectic schedule as they jetted into Edinburgh from Gran Canaria and powered to a 32-point halftime lead against Caledonia Pride at the Pleasance Sports Complex.

Holly Winterburn, Kennedy Leonard and Cassie Breen led the scorers in that opening 20 minutes, but viewers won’t have been able to overlook Paige Robinson-Miller’s contribution as she had eight points, 10 rebounds – eight on the offensive end – and three steals to provide a spark for the Lions.

The visitors kept rolling in the second half, stopping the Pride from ever getting a real foothold in the game, and eventually saw out a 54-point victory.

Over in Loughborough it was Leicester Riders and the Nottingham Wildcats who did battle, with both teams having had contrasting fortunes in WBBL Cup action, looking to start their Championship campaigns on a positive note.

It was a very even East-Midlands derby as both sides frustrated each other on the defensive end and struggled to score from the perimeter. All square at 27 apiece at halftime, this game bucked the trend of the high-scoring battles earlier in the day, but it was a fascinating battle between two great rivals.

It was a game that looked destined to be decided at the last second, but the Wildcats pulled out a five-point lead with five minutes to go before Derrick Washington’s side again hustled their way back level, forced a tough shot from their opponents, and broke the other way through Anna Lappenkuper, who was fouled and converted the free throws to secure a last-gasp two-point win for the Riders.

Up in the north-east, Newcastle Eagles welcomed Oaklands Wolves to town, with Lauren Milligan looking to mark her WBBL Championship Head Coaching debut with a win, and her young team certainly started with plenty of vigour.

The Wolves took the first quarter 26-17 with good contributions from senior players Lizzy Harrison and Merissa Quick complimented by the energy of the young core and scoring of Kizzy Spence, before holding off an Ebony-Horton-inspired Eagles to secure a 40-30 lead going into the interval.

Whatever Coach Chris Bunten said to his team in the locker room clearly had the desired effect as the Eagles outscored the Wolves 20-12 in the third period to set up a nail-biting final quarter with only two points separating the teams.

Oaklands weren’t to be denied, though, as Harrison and Quick were sensational in combining for 43 points on the night to lead the Wolves on a fourth-quarter charge and secure a first WBBL win for their new Head Coach.

In the final game of the day, history was made at tip-off as the Gloucester City Queens got their first-ever WBBL Championship campaign underway, welcoming Cardiff Met Archers to Oxstalls Sports Park for their big day.

With Melita Emanuel-Carr starting her first WBBL game for the club after injury concerns had prevented her from playing in the WBBL Cup, the Queens were buoyed and it showed in their first quarter performance as they brought the energy to secure a 19-14 lead.

The Archers’ comparatively deep squad enabled Stef Collins’ side to find an edge in the second quarter, as they could rely on eight points from the bench – six of which came from 16-year-old Carys Roy – to provide a pivotal boost and Met took a lead into the interval.

A 10-point third quarter performance from Emanuel-Carr put the Queens in the driving seat to take the win going into the fourth, and they saw out a deserved win with a dominant performance in the final ten minutes to bag their first ever WBBL Championship victory.