basketball

London Lions v Newcastle Eagles – 2021 WBBL playoffs final preview

The last game of an eventful 2020-21 WBBL season with the playoffs Championship to be decided in Leicester.

Here’s a closer look at today’s matchup as London Lions and Newcastle Eagles clash for the title.

London Lions [3] 🆚 Newcastle Eagles [7]

Sunday 16th May, 3pm, Morningside Arena, Leicester

Semi-finals:

The Lions did their job once more with a controlled performance in beating Nottingham Wildcats for a fourth time this season. It was closer than their Trophy final encounter, but London came through to win 77-68 with an all-round team display. Shanice Beckford-Norton had 18 points, Cassie Breen with 16 despite an early injury scare and Kennedy Leonard finished with a 14-9-9 stat-line.

Newcastle pulled off an even biggest upset in WBBL playoffs history. Less than a week after they stunned Leicester Riders, they provided a huge shock by knocking out the league champions. Chris Bunten’s side overturned a 12-point deficit in the second half with an unrelenting effort for a historic 79-72 triumph. Alison Gorrell recorded the first playoffs triple-double with 22-12-10 with Abby Lowe, Maddy McVicar and Rachael Bland combining for 53 points – containing 11 threes.

Previous meetings:

They first met this season all the way back on the opening weekend of the league campaign in mid-December. London jumped out to a strong start on their way to an 85-72 victory behind a 26-point haul from Breen, while Gorrell had 22 points in defeat.

The league’s leading scorer fired in 28 points in the reverse fixture in the North-East, but the hosts ran out of steam in the fourth to fall to a 61-72 loss. Breen top scored with 20 points, while Stephanie Umeh had 18 points with Beckford-Norton and Chantel Charles both collecting 10+ rebounds.

Statzone:

  • This is London Lions’ first WBBL playoffs final, while Newcastle Eagles won their previous final appearance in 2016 as Team Northumbria;
  • Rachael Bland was part of Northumbria’s title-winning roster when they beat Nottingham at The O2;
  • Newcastle are the lowest seeds to ever compete in the WBBL playoffs final;
  • Kennedy Leonard committed nine turnovers last time out against Newcastle – but has only had more than four in a game on one other occasion;
  • The WBBL playoffs final record for assists is eight – Leonard had at least eight assists in 16 of 20 league appearances this season;
  • Chantel Charles (Lions) and Maddy McVicar (Eagles) both played at the University of Maine during their collegiate career and play on opposite sides of the floor in the final.

Features:

Not done yet | Kennedy Leonard

Don’t sleep on us | Abby Lowe

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