Barking Abbey women win WBBL Trophy opener

PUBLISHED: 14:30 23 January 2017

Barking Abbey's Diana Naydenova-Goryanova (pic Barking Abbey Academy)

Barking Abbey's Diana Naydenova-Goryanova (pic Barking Abbey Academy)


Sevenoaks Suns 69 Barking Abbey 71 (OT)

Barking Abbey got their WBBL Trophy campaign off to a winning start with a narrow overtime defeat of Sevenoaks Suns on Saturday evening.

Abbey were led by a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds from Christina Gaskin, but it was Diana Naydenova-Goryanova who took control in the extra period, scoring eight of her 15 points to lead the visitors to the win, whilst Charlotte Ellmore went four from four at the line down the stretch and finished with 13.

“I’m obviously pleased to get the win, though I’m disappointed we didn’t wrap it up in regulation,” said head coach Mark Clark.

“I have to give credit to Sevenoaks as they came back very well in the second half. The performance of Diana was exceptional again, simply taking over in overtime. The way she controlled overtime was just another example of how good she is.

“I’m really positive about the performance of Charlotte Ellmore, playing 23 minutes in her first year with the programme, she shot the ball really well, made some free throws down the stretch that were key and was great to see Christina Gaskin back to her best.

“It gives us the first win in the trophy, obviously it’s a clear objective to get to the semi-finals and puts us in good shape for the BBC game next Friday.”

The last four games between these South East rivals – currently fifth and sixth in the WBBL Championship – had all been settled by single figures and this game would prove to be the closest yet.

It was the visitors who had the better of a low-scoring first half between the second and third best defensive sides in the WBBL, taking a 15-6 lead on a burst of nine unanswered points.

Zoe Willis hit a three-pointer in that run and Savannah Wilkinson added four as the hosts were scoreless for four minutes.

And Abbey were up by as many as 13 when Ellmore’s triple made it 28-15, but Suns finished the half well, with Gabriele Nikitinaite scoring all of the last seven points to narrow the gap.

And she carried that momentum into the third period, scoring four more as Suns got back to within one point.

Abbey looked to have won the game when Naydenova-Goryanova scored from long range with five minutes to play, making it 52-46.

But the hosts clamped down on defence and finished with a 7-1 push, levelling with 18 seconds left after Catherine Carr’s ‘and-one’ and a pair of free-throws from Anne Pedersen.

The extra period was uncharacteristic of the rest of the game, as it became a three-point shoot-out, with six made in just five minutes.

Nikitinaite made two for the hosts, initially, and they were still in front when Renee Busch connected.

But Naydenova-Goryanova made two of her own, giving Abbey a 67-66 lead inside the final minute, before Ellmore settled the game from the free-throw line, making four from four in the last 30 seconds.

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