Sunday’s 5pm action saw the Leicester Riders taking on the Essex Rebel’s at home. It was an intense back and forth battle but ultimately the Rebels came out on top despite the Riders best efforts. 

Star Performers for the Riders include Brooklynn McAlear-Fanus with 16 points and Oceana Hamilton who stuffed the stat sheet with 18 points and 12 rebounds. The Riders excelled on defense and used their size advantage to dominate the paint, but it was the perimeter shooting of Essex that allowed them to pull ahead and take the win. 

In the first the Riders looked dominant. Springing ahead to a quick 16-6 lead halfway through the first. Essex, however, were able to gather themselves and over the next 5 minutes bring the game back to only a 5 point deficit, 30-25 lead for the Riders as the first quarter closed. 

The second quarter wasn’t very pretty for the Riders as they went scoreless for the first 5 minutes. However, they were able to rally behind their full-court pressure leading points off of turnovers and scored 16 points in the last 5 minutes of the first half. 

However, their drought in the first half of the quarter allowed Essex to gain momentum and take the lead in the half. At Halftime Essex leads by 3, 49-46.

Coming out of halftime both teams seemed rejuvenated on the defensive end, both teams fought for good looks and whenever a team would manage to score it seemed the other would come down and answer with a bucket of their own. 

Despite the best efforts of Makana Stone and Oceana Hamilton in the third Essex managed to hold onto their lead as they entered the fourth quarter ahead by 2, 63-61. 

In the fourth both teams continued their heated battle. But behind Essex’s Ashleigh Munns’ stellar performance from behind the three-point arc, Essex had brought their lead up to 6 with 2:20 left to play, 78-72. 

The Riders called a timeout and came out swinging, behind clutch mid-range shots from Hannah Robb and Anna Lappenküper brought the game within 2 points, but another Ashleigh Munns three-pointer put the Riders down 6 with a minute left to play. 

The Riders were forced to intentionally foul and free throws from the Rebels kept their lead at 6 points with 22 seconds to play. The Riders brought the ball down and Makana Stone hit a clutch contested three with 6 seconds left to play bringing the lead down to 3, but it proved too little too late as they were forced to foul and the Rebels put them away at the free throw line. Essex wins 84-80.

An unfortunate loss for the Riders who were right at the brink of taking this game, but unfortunately there’s only so much time on the clock and Essex were able to outlast the Riders. Phenomenal effort from the Riders women as they look to bounce back against the Wildcats on April 9th. 

Match report written by Rob Field.