Lions beat Eagles to win WBBL play-offs

May 17, 2021
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    London Lions with WBBL Play-offs trophyLondon Lions won the first two titles of their WBBL history this season – the WBBL Trophy and the play-offs

    London Lions won their first WBBL play-offs title and their second trophy of the season when they beat Newcastle Eagles 93-71 at Leicester.

    Lions were led by captain Shanice Beckford-Norton, who scored 30 points, a WBBL play-off final record.

    Alison Gorrell equalled it with 30 points for Newcastle, whose recent giantkilling run came to an end.

    Newcastle came back to tie the game with 16 minutes remaining, before Lions reasserted their dominance.

    The Eagles, who finished seventh in the league, had beaten league runners-up Leicester and champions Sevenoaks on their run to the final.

    But they struggled to control the creativity and intensity of Beckford-Norton and Kennedy Leonard, the Lions playmaker named Player of the Year by the UK's basketball writers.

    Trailing 45-37 at half-time, Newcastle had a pair of threes from Maddy McVicar and another from Abigail Lowe as they tied the game 51-51 but a Beckford-Norton three and twos from Chantel Charles, Stephanie Umeh and Leonard triggered a 13-0 run to restore Lions' cushion.

    Leading 69-55 after three quarters, London kept up the pressure in the final 10 minutes, which finished with Leonard taking the last rebound of the game to complete a triple-double of 20 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.

    "Kennedy was the first player I thought about because she makes everyone else around her better – she's just a quality player," said Lions coach Mark Clark, who is hoping to take his team into European competition next season.

    "I think the European experience will be great for her. And Shanice disrupts everybody – one on one she can control anyone. It all starts at the defensive end for her, she just ignites everything."

    The match was part of a double header between the two clubs in Leicester, with Newcastle beating London Lions 68-66 in the men's final.

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