Leicester win WBBL Trophy as British basketball continues to march on

Leicester Riders captured the 2020 Betty Codona Trophy in Glasgow on Sunday as one of the few sporting events on the globe remained defiant in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Riders’ 70-66 win over Durham Palatinates was nothing short of exhilarating throughout, with leads exchanged and intensity at both ends

It was everything you could want in a basketball final that was ultimately decided in the final seconds. A perfect advert for the Women’s British Basketball League.

It was a much needed break from the health crisis that continues to grip the world with most activity in the UK on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The premier women’s and men’s basketball leagues in the country for now is still going, correctly following the advice put out by the UK government despite immense pressure by basketball fans to postpone the league and the final, like so many sporting competitions have done.

The two WBBL fixtures that were planned for Saturday night, however, were postponed by the clubs involved.

Even during the third quarter of the Betty Codona final, the country’s netball Superleague confirmed that it has suspended all action because of the coronavirus.

In the face of it all though, Leicester came away with their third straight WBBL Trophy win against a Durham side who have featured in three of the last four WBBL finals, but have come short in all three.

Icelandic star Sara Hinriksdottir paced the winners with 23 points with Kate Oliver contributing a 17-point, 11-rebound double-double.

Leicester enjoyed double-digit leads for periods of the contest but were never able to pull away from a Durham side that were solid, defensively and managed to turn that pressure into points at the other end.

The Riders though desperately hung on to their lead throughout a nail-biting fourth quarter and even when Durham attempted to take pole position late on, by levelling the game at 66-66 with 2:18 left, Leicester kept their cool.

As time wound down, Durham were missing shots and Leicester eventually iced the game from the free throw line.

Betsy McDonald, who hit her first four three-pointers early on, ended with 16 points to lead Durham.

Photo credit: Mansoor Ahmed