Barking Abbey were unable to prevent Nottingham Wildcats to move a step closer to defending the WBBL Championship title after falling 74-52 on Saturday in Nottingham, led by another double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds from Ashley Harris.
Savannah Wilkinson and Christina Gaskin led BA with 14 and 12 points respectively, as BA used a strong second quarter to remain in the game through the first half but struggled in the third and fourth periods.
“At times the game summed up our season,” said BA Head Coach Mark Clark.
“We played some great team ball in the first half, moved the ball effectively, defensively found a way to slow Nottingham down, but in the second half, their experience and depth of talent overwhelmed us a little bit.
“Young talented players have to understand that sooner or later they’ve got to stop being young and talented and they’ve got to actually deliver at this tough WBBL level. with the playoffs coming up in three more games, if we want to progress in the playoffs, we can’t play quarters of good basketball, we have to play the whole 40 minutes.
“Nottingham are obviously a great team, they’re close to the regular season title so it’s no disgrace to lose them, but it’s just the way we didn’t perform for the whole 40 minutes and that’s what we have to do to be successful in the playoffs.”
It was a crucial win for the title-chasers, coming into the game on two defeats in their previous three outings, and they set about this one from the opening tip. Jo Ferreira scored five points in an early 9-2 burst that made the score 16-7 on her three-pointer inside the first five minutes.
The lead was double-digits before the first quarter concluded, when Siobhan Prior scored to make it 20-9, adding to her early triple.
Barking’s brightest spell came at the opening of the second stanza, when they came back to tie the game at 28, after Imani Whittington scored five in a 13-4 run and Christina Gaskin, who had 12 first half points, levelled the score.
But Harris, the league’s leading scorer who averages a double-double, halted that momentum with five points in a row to keep Wildcats in front at the half, as she and Prior outdid Gaskin on 13 points each.
And Wildcats scored the first seven of the third period, another five for Harris, to restore a double-figure advantage that would prove to be decisive, as it became a 16-4 start when Melisa Mendes, the third most accurate long-range shooter in the league, added a pair of three-pointers for 55-39.
There was no way back for the visitors, as Nottingham opened the fourth with the first five points and a Prior triple, her fourth of the game, as they held their visitors to just two points in seven minutes.
Wildcats remain unbeaten in six meetings over nearly three years in the WBBL against Barking, and are unbeaten at home in the league so far this season.