NTU Women’s Basketball is strengthening year on year. Leon Blackman meets the club who juggled the National League, BUCS playoffs and Varsity against their local rivals, University of Nottingham…
Nottingham Trent University Women’s Basketball produced the perfect end to their season, remaining unbeaten all year as they won the WNBL Division 2 Playoff Final 91-66 against local team Derby Trailblazers in Manchester on April, 29.
Derby resisted NTU for as long as possible but Trent’s trio of Vicky Gray, Sadie Russell and eventual MVP Jolanna Ford combined for 70 of their side’s points, with all three showing their versatility throughout. The longer the game wore on, the further Nottingham pulled ahead, allowing their impressive travelling support to get into the party spirit for much of the 2nd half.
Ford’s selection as the game’s MVP was a straightforward one after the talented shooter poured in a game high 33 points to go with 10 rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block for a truly dominant double-double (producing a double digit number in two statistical categories in a game).
The 2nd provided more of the same as Derby struggled to find clean looks whilst Trent forged ahead. Nottingham’s captain Vicky Gray (18 points, five rebounds, eight assists) scored 16 of her 18 points in the 1st half, with eight in each quarter to provide a steady stream of offence. Ford repeatedly set up camp in the high post, happy to receive the ball with her back to the basket before displaying great agility and an explosive first step to find her way to the basket. Three NTU players racked up scoring tally’s in the double digits by the end of the half, making their 47-30 lead no accident.
Nottingham Trent University Coach Louise Waghorn said: “I thought the girls came out and played really well. We’ve been working hard and we were able to showcase all our strengths: Playing as a team, playing strong and utilising our many threats. It’s hard to stop us which is why we’ve gone unbeaten all season. Obviously we knew what Derby are about which helps a little bit, but everyone was ready to play. They’re a tough team with some talented players but we were just able to outplay them with the depth in our squad.”
MVP Jolanna Ford: “Honestly, this feels great. Me and my team came out ready to play, with the game plan, and I just tried to do everything I can for my team. It just feels great. Going unbeaten is a really good feeling. We work extremely hard, hours in the gym, just to come out ready to play. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Having lost to the University of Nottingham the week before in the varsity series, the team regrouped and were ready for a another competitive game in the BUCS play offs.
This time the tables turned and NTU were in control of the game. Having a very strong inside presence with some impressive plays from Isabel and Jolanna they were proving too much for University of Nottingham.
With 5 minutes to go in the final quarter, up 9 points, it looked like NTU were going to take the game. University of Nottingham were not going down that easy. Having not won a BUCS’ game this season it started to get tight for Trent with University of Nottingham taking the lead by one in the last few moments.
“A last second half way shot for Trent by Vicky Gray looked like it could have dropped in but instead hit the ring and bounced out to end our season. It has been a long hard season in BUCS but as a coach I am very proud of all the players. They gave everything they could and I do believe it’s more about the journey than the destination.” Louise Waghorn.
By Leon Blackman
Photo Credit: Fabrice Gagos