Report: Riders beat Wildcats in overtime

The Riders improved to 4-0 in the Women’s British Basketball League Championship, taking an 83-75 overtime home win against the Nottingham Wildcats. 

Taylor O’Brien led the team with her second straight 20-point performance, leading the game with 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists. She was backed by an 18-point double-double from Sam Ashby, who grabbed 10 rebounds in a red-hot overtime performance. 

The so-far winless Wildcats put up a heroic fight against the table-topping Riders, pushing them all the way after a hot start. 22 from Jessica Wayne led the team, as the visitors shot 44% from three to come close to an upset win. 

Starting off 6-0, Nottingham took an early surprise lead led by seven from 6’3” center Brooke Bjelko. The Riders shot 27% from the field in the first but trailed only by a possession after Elise Tweeidie’s free throw to end the quarter. 

The visitors stretched their lead in the second, making it double-digits thanks to a layup inside from American Wayne. Leicester’s two for 13 shooting from deep dug their first half hole, but Taylor O’Brien found form to end the second quarter to keep the hosts in touch. 

O’Brien had four points and a steal in the final two minutes to bring her game tally to nine, and making the score 28-39 going into the locker rooms. 

She continued her dominance in the third, scoring 11 in the quarter as the Riders attempted to chip into the deficit. Driving inside, her and-one play cut it to a four-point game with two minutes left. 

Charnwood graduate Katie Januszewska got on the scoreboard to follow up her teammates, scoring five quick points and snatching the lead for the first time since the opening quarter. The Riders held the Wildcats to a scoreless final seven minutes of the third to lead by four with one to play. 

Shahd Abboud, upon her return from injury, led the Riders out the gate in the fourth with two quick buckets. They stamped their authority in the final period of play, building a solid foundation to see the game out from. Abboud hit a three with four minutes gone to make it an eight-point Leicester lead. 

Nottingham hit big shots throughout to keep it competitive, and cut it to a one-point game after a three from Wayne with 1:45 left to play. After a back-and-forth exchange, Mari Stewart drained another triple which tied it up with nine seconds remaining. 

Ashby couldn’t connect on the would-be game-winner, and the tie went to overtime. 

She took over the overtime period with back-to-back threes to amend for the miss, building a two-possession lead for the Riders to defend. The GB international’s second triple with 2:30 to go proved to be the final score before the fixture became a free-throw-shooting affair. 

Jessica Eadsforth-Yates and Ashby hit their foul shots to end the game, winning it in overtime. 

The Riders are back in action next week, hitting the road to take on last season’s quadruple-winning London Lions on Sunday.

Championship Preview: Riders vs Wildcats

Leicester Riders return home to take on the Nottingham Wildcats in their fourth game of the Women’s British Basketball League season. 

They have the chance to improve to 4-0 to start the season in the first season under new Head Coach Ben Stanley. 

Fixture information 

Leicester Riders vs Nottingham Wildcats 

Morningside Arena, Leicester

Saturday, November 25, 4:30 PM

Get tickets here!

Tickets for the following Riders men’s game against Manchester Giants are also valid for the women’s game, so come down and get behind the team! 

Three on the bounce

The first three games of the season were in little doubt late on for the Riders, who have won by a margin of 32 per game. Their latest opponent was the Cardiff Met Archers, who the Riders faced on the road in South Wales. 

Leicester came away with a dominant 110-64 win against the Archers in a game that was in little doubt throughout. Their leading scorer on the season Taylor O’Brien led the way once again with a 26 point outing. 

“I owe it all to my teammates,” said O’Brien after the win. “They’ve been able to get me easy, open shots. The way we move and pass the ball makes it easy for everybody on this team to be successful.”

That was evident against the Archers, as the Riders had six players contribute double-digit points to the explosive offensive performance. Now, they look ahead to the Wildcats, hoping to continue in their rich vein of form. 

 “We’ve got to do it again. We have to come out with energy, be strong and together, and if we do that we’ll be ok.”

Coach’s thoughts 

Head Coach Ben Stanley has enjoyed an undefeated start to his tenure at the reins of the Leicester Riders. 

With three wins under the team’s belt, Stanley looks to build in the team’s performances for the rest of the season. 

“On the defensive end of the floor it was our best performance of the season,” said Stanley. “It’s been a really weird season for trying to find a rhythm with the late start and international break, so it was a great performance from the ladies.

“We’ve got a great group of young ladies, and it’s been a pleasure to coach them. We’re still building, and trying to become more consistent in the performances we’re putting out there. Consistency and discipline are the two biggest words for us at the moment.”

Wildcats looking for first win

After a 3-19 season last year left them second bottom of the Championship standings last season, this year has started much like the last for the Wildcats. 

They are 0-4 through their opening games, shooting a League-low 21.2% from three and 40.7% from the field which results in only 68.8 points per game. 

Last time out, it was the Durham Palatinates who took an 85-72 victory against the Wildcats in Nottingham. They hung in the game deep in the fourth quarter, keeping it to within single digits with four and a half minutes remaining, but the Palatinates had enough to stretch their lead late and come away with the win. 

They’re led on the season by Mari Stewart, who went off for 24 points and eight rebounds against Durham to bring her season average to 17.5 points and 10.3 rebounds per outing. 

The second-year Wildcat is their best source of offensive production early in the year, and Nottingham will lean on her to find a way past the in-form Riders. 

Key matchup 

Backing up her teammate in the clash against Durham was American Jessica Wayne, who put up 21 points and 11 rebounds on 53% shooting in the clash. 

Wayne signed with the Wildcats from Durham this offseason, having spent her first two professional seasons with the Palatinates. In 35.2 minutes per game, she put up 14.2 points and 7.9 rebounds, making her name as one of the League’s forces around the paint from the guard spot. 

The 25-year-old is a two-way threat and established as an elite perimeter defender. Last season, she earned a spot on the WBBL All-Defensive team, ranking third in the League in steals per game with 3.1.

Matching up on the other end is captain Mckenzie Johnston, who has hit the ground running in her second season in Riders red. 

The Montana native is scoring 14.7 per game, and earned a spot on the Women’s British Basketball League Team of the Week in week two after she put up 19 points and nine rebounds against Oaklands Wolves. 

In a game where a hot start was important in setting the tone against the Cardiff Met Archers last time out, she was directly involved in the team’s first 15 which saw them burst out to a big lead.

Johnston has taken a step up from an impressive first season with the Riders, where her 8.3 points, 6.3 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game helped the team to three domestic finals. 

The captain will have a vital responsibility on both ends in this one, and will look to prove the difference in her matchup with Wayne.   

Riders Bag Another Win

Leicester Riders were once again able to prevail against the Nottingham Wildcats on 11th April at their home game. 

The very fast paced first quarter put the Riders in the lead at 17-13. The second quarter was in favour of the Riders who came back even stronger in both their offense and defence. They allowed the Wildcats to put up only 6 points throughout the quarter giving them a comfortable lead at 43-19 at the end of the first half. The Wildcats got off to a very strong start in the third quarter however, the Riders were able to maintain the pressure on them and started the fourth quarter at 65-40. The Riders continued to dominate on the court in the last quarter and maintained their defensive pressure giving them the win at 88-50. 

Both Holly Winterburn and Hannah Robb put up an impressive performance by scoring 21 points each for the Leicester Riders and Winterburn also led with 7 assists. While Simone Costa led with 13 points and Chelsey Shumpert with 4 assists for the Nottingham Wildcats. 


Riders: H. Winterburn 21, H. Robb 21, M. Brewer 15, E. Clark 9, A. Stewart 8, A. Lappenkuper 6, A. Smith 4, K. Januszewska 2, E. Morris 2 

Wildcats: S. Costa 13, P. Egharevba 10, M. Lundqvist 10, C. Shumpert 9, T. Freeman 6, R. Dwomoh 2The Riders will now face a very tough game against the BA London Lions on Wednesday, 14th April at the Loughborough University Netball Centre at 4 pm