Report: Riders fall short of a comeback against Rebels

The Riders fell out of the Women’s British Basketball League Trophy, losing to the Essex Rebels 84-70 on the road. 

Leicester fell into a 17-point hole early after a slow start, and were down 23 to start the final quarter. 

They came storming back into it, cutting the deficit to six with 3:39 left after a three-point explosion from Taylor O’Brien. But it was too little, too late, and the Rebels knocked down late free throws to progress to the semi-final. 

Sam Ashby led the Riders’ scoring with 21 points after putting up 14 in the first half, backed by Mckenzie Johnston’s 18 and O’Brien’s 15. O’Brien hit five threes in the fourth quarter to spark the comeback. 

Katherine Tudor’s monster third quarter meant she led the game with 24 points. The Rebels cooked from deep, shooting 50% from three on the game. 

Ashby got straight to work for Leicester from the tip, attacking the hoop on the team’s first three possessions for a return of four points. Ashby scored the Riders’ first six, getting to the line with 7:24 left to tie the game. 

Despite the GB international’s play, it was Essex who took the early initiative. Rebel’s star guard Katherine Tudor drained the team’s second three of the game to make it 14-6. 

It was quickly 19-8 with 4:15 left in the first, forcing Head Coach Ben Stanley to call his first timeout. But the Riders had no answer for the Rebels’ physically inside throughout the first. Their opponents scored 20 points in the paint and led 31-14 after one.

Jessica Eadsforth-Yates got the second quarter going for Leicester with a triple from the top of the arc. Ashby followed up from the same spot before nailing another on the next play as the Riders began to chip into the deficit. 

But Essex hit back, and burst back out to a 20 point lead. Megan Haines’ three for her 11th points capped off an 8-0 run with 4:49 remaining in the half. 

It was Leicester’s captain, Johnston, who led the charge going into the break. She scored eight in the second quarter, and cut it to a 13-point game after Katie Januszewska blocked Claire Paxton’s three-point attempt. 

The final score of the half was Essex’s Dayzsha Rogan pulling up from midrange, and the sides entered the locker rooms with the hosts up 48-33. 

Johnston got right back to it in the third, pulling up in the lane to make the first basket of the second half. But a red-hot Rebels team kept gunning from deep, Tudor hitting three triples in as many minutes. 

Another three from Tudor with 3:42 left in the third rebuilt their advantage to 20. Johnston kept battling, scoring another eight points to bring her game tally to 16, but turnovers cost the Riders throughout the quarter, keeping the Rebels out of reach. 

Rogan finished the quarter at the foul line, making it 71-48. 

The Riders battled back in the final quarter, Taylor O’Brien connecting from deep to cut the deficit to 15. She fired again with 6”30 remaining, making the score 72-59. 

O’Brien caught fire, knocking down her third triple of the period with 4:40 left in the game to bring the score to 75-65. Johnston then drove to the hole and made it a single-digit affair for the first time since the first quarter. 

O’Brien pulled up from deep again and cut it to six, forcing an Essex timeout with 3:39 remaining. 

But the timeout stalled the Riders offence, and the Rebels had enough to hang on in the closing stages by making their free-throws. 

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Trophy Preview: Riders at Rebels

The Riders return from their winter break to tip off their Women’s British Basketball League Betty Codona Trophy campaign on the road against the Essex Rebels. 

They enter the competition at the quarter-final stage- last year’s finalists received a BYE for the first round of the competition. 

Here’s how the teams shape up…

Fixture information

Leicester Riders at Essex Rebels

Essex Sports Arena

Saturday, January 13, 4 pm

Back after the break

The Riders last played on December 9, and are now set to take on the same opponents in the same building. 

They concluded their pre-winter campaign with a 79-70 win on the road to Essex, led by 20 points from star guard Taylor O’Brien. 

The Riders are one of two teams with a single loss in the Championship this season, their only defeat coming on the road to the undefeated London Lions. They’re 5-1, with the second-best points production in the League. 

Tay leading the way

O’Brien has hit the ground running in Riders red, leading the team in scoring on the season. She’s scoring 19.7 points per game, the second-highest scorer in the League through six games, getting her points on 46.4% shooting from the field. 

Her efforts in November saw her named Women’s British Basketball League Player of the Month, averaging 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists on 61.7% shooting from the field. 

The American guard signed from Flordia State, having averaged 6.7 points for the Seminoles last season. 

She has established herself as one of the stars of British basketball and will look to lead the team to the Trophy final this year. 

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Battle in the backcourt

Facing off against O’Brien is fellow American Katherine Tudor, who went off for a game-high 23 points last time out against Leicester. 

Tudor signed in Essex in the offseason and leads the team’s scoring with 18.3 points per game. 

The 25-year-old signed from Australian NBL1 West side Mandura Magic, where she averaged 15.6 points per game last season across 22 NBL games, the second-highest points average amongst the team.

Her best scoring performance of the season came against the Riders, and the ever-consistent scoring threat will look to match O’Brien in this one. 

Want to see the Riders in action?

Get tickets to our next home game against Cardiff Met Archers on February 10!

Report: Riders win a battle in Essex

The Riders improved to 5-1 after defeating the Essex Rebels 79-70 in a hard-fought road encounter. 

Rayven Peeples dominated late, scoring seven in the final quarter on her way to 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Taylor O’Brien led the Riders with 19 points and 5 rebounds, after being named Women’s British Basketball League Player of the Month earlier in the day. 

Leicester were forced to fight for the win, never leading by double digits in the game. They found form late on to seal it after leading all through the second half.

Star guard Kat Tudor led the game with 23 points and 9 rebounds, catching fire from deep to shoot 5-9. The Rebels hit big shots to keep within striking distance, but couldn’t overcome Rayven’s power in the paint. 

On the road against an in-form Rebels outfit, the Riders exchanged buckets with Essex early. Scottish forward Claire Paxton scored five quick points for the Rebels, matched by GB international Sam Ashby for the visitors through the opening five minutes. 

For her seventh points, Ashby’s quick cut to the basket was found by Taylor O’Brien’s handoff for the highlight of the first quarter. Leicester found success by attacking the hoop off the ball throughout. 

After seven first-quarter lead changes, the Riders led 21-19 following Dayzsha Rogan’s blown breakaway layup to end it. 

Missed open threes were the story of the second for the Riders. The team got good looks from deep but only connected on one of their six open attempts as the Rebels remained in the game. 

O’Brien took the reigns as the clock ticked down to the half. She scored seven in the quarter to bring her game tally to a team-high 12. 

With little between the sides, Shahid Abboud caught fire for five quick points to give the Riders their biggest lead of the game at 42-35. She knocked down a three, then drove into the teeth of the Rebels’ defence and sank a floater in the lane. 

Essex hit back to close the half at the hands of their leading scorer on the season Kat Tudor, before Paxton hit two free throws to make it 42-39 in Leicester’s favour going into the locker rooms. 

Rayven Peeples took over the scoring load to behind the second half, as the Riders played from in front. She scored six straight points in three minutes, concluded by a tough finish through contact. 

With the three ball still not dropping, the Riders found ways to consistently get to the bucket and keep the scoreboard ticking over. But once again, the Rebels found form late in the quarter to bring it back to a possession with four straight points. 

Peepes continued to impress in the fourth, driving to her right and finishing through a foul for an and-one play. O’Brien followed up her teammate with a three to extend the Riders’ lead to six. 

Peeples extended the lead to nine with five minutes remaining in the game with eight of the Riders’ first 10 points in the final quarter of action. The American rookie put Leicester in good stead to see the game out. 

Tudor found a response for the Rebels with their first triple of the fourth, and her game-high 23rd points of the afternoon. 

But the Riders had enough to get over the line, as Peeples continued to battle down low with no answer defensively from Essex. 

Mckenzie Johnston’s layup inside was the dagger, sealing Leicester their fifth win of the season. 

The Riders can now enjoy a winter break, returning to action on Febuary 10th to take on the Cardiff Met Archers at home.

Get tickets here!

Preview: Riders at Rebels

Leicester Riders look to bounce back after their first defeat of the season, as they head to the South East to face the Essex Rebels. 

Fixture Information

Leicester Riders @ Essex Rebels

Essex Sports Arena

Saturday, December 9, 4pm

Falling in the capital 

The Riders fell for the first time in the 2023/24 Women’s British Basketball League season, taking a 77-61 defeat to the back-to-back quadruple-winning London Lions. 

The Riders played the Lions the toughest of all of their opponents early in the season in a spirited performance, but London’s firepower proved too much for Leicester from the offset. 

Rayven Peeples put in an impressive performance in the capital for the Riders, leading the game with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Peeples grabbed seven boards on the offensive glass to buy the Riders second chances throughout. 

She ranks third in the League in rebounds per game, putting herself among Britain’s best on the boards. 

It’s been a successful start to the season for the Riders through five games, as they’ve put themselves in the mix at the top of the table with a 4-1 record. Led by Peeples, they rank top of the offensive rebounding and blocks per game charts, their force in the interior leading to four straight wins to start the season. 

They’ll want to get straight back to winning ways against Essex to maintain the momentum built from the opening tip-off. 

Rebels looking competitive

 10-12 record left the Rebels sixth in the standings last season, facing the Riders in the first round of the playoffs. They fell in a close one, the Riders edging the tie 83-80 in an overtime thriller, with Essex coming close to an upset win. 

They’ve seen a plethora of players join the team in the offseason, most notably American guard Kat Tudor who leads the Rebels’ scoring on the season with 20.3 points per game. 

The roster changes have led them to a .500 start to the season, sitting with a 2-2 record through four games. Their losses this season have come at the hands of the undefeated London Lions and Caledonia Gladiators in a tough schedule to strat the season. 

Last time out, they played the Gladiators tough in a 69-61 road defeat. It was a five-point game with under a minute remaining, with the hosts finding enough late to get over the line, but the Rebels showed they can compete with the elite teams in the league on any given night. 

They’ll need the same level of play in this one to avoid falling below .500. 

Key matchup 

A battle between Americans in the backcourt awaits in this one, as two of the top four scorers in the Women’s British Basketball League go face to face in Essex.

For Essex, Kat Tudor has hit the ground running to lead the Rebels early in the season. The California native signed from  Australian NBL1 West side Mandura Magic, where she averaged 15.6 points per game last season, ranking second on her team. 

Tudor’s four-year college career at Oregon State University saw her put up 8.6 points and 3.0 rebounds, shooting at over 40% from three. She finished third in program history in career 3-pointers and fourth in career 3-point percentage. 

The 25-year-old’s elite three-point shooting has carried over to the South East. Tudor his hitting her triples at a 45.9% rate, the best of anyone who has taken over 20. 

Faced with the task of slowing her down is Taylor O’Brien, who has had a similarly impressive start to her first season in British Basketball. 

She leads the Riders with 19.6 points per game, putting up 20 points on three occasions through five games. 

O’Brien signed from Flordia State, having averaged 6.7 points for the Seminoles last season. 

She spent four years prior at Bucknell University, leading the team in scoring for two straight seasons and earning a place on the All-Patriot League First team for 2021 and 2022. The Pennsylvania native averaged 16.7 points and 6.5 rebounds in her final season with the Bison. 

O’Brien also owns Bucknell’s record in the outdoor high jump and was named to the second Team All-Patriot League with a runner-up finish in the 2019 Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

She’ll look to counteract Tudor’s shooting with her speed and athleticism in this battle in the backcourt.