It was a frantic start to the game as both teams put together scoring plays straight away, making it 3-2 to the hosts after Gold hit a three from the corner to respond to the away side’s early bucket.
Birmingham then began to look the better side, and Coventry called a timeout midway through the first quarter at 9-4. The lead could not be kept, however, as Coventry did well to rally and hit three pointer with seconds remaining to make it 12-12 at the end of the first.
Points were being scored in only one direction in the beginning of the second, as the Lionesses proved why they’re such a formidable force, making it 20-13. Gold then followed up from Muller in the first quarter and went coast to coast to make it 26-17 with a few minutes left in the quarter.
Disappointingly, the team again seemingly succumbed to a loss of focus late on, and conceded 8 unanswered points to make it 28-25 at the end of a very close half. Madden then gave Birmingham some breathing space with a three to make it 33-28 early in the third, and the game continued in a nervy fashion.
At the end of the penultimate quarter it was 44-39, and it was evident that home court advantage was playing a part, with the crowd firmly and loudly behind the Lionesses. The Coventry team’s big men were, however, continuing to prove difficult to handle with the away side dominating the offensive and defensive rebounds.
Coventry had a strong start to the quarter, and with 5 minutes left to play it was 49-49 and set for a very tense end. With only a few minutes on the clock, Birmingham went down for the first time in the game, 49-52, but again Gold was on hand with a fantastic display of composure to sink both her late free throws to make it 53-52.
Both teams then scored again, and in the final play of the game, Coventry sank a bucket…after the buzzer. For a few seconds there was elation in both camps, as both teams assumed they had won, and then the away side’s joy turned to bewilderment as they realised the points had not counted.
The players surrounded and berated the referee, who was adamant in his decision. A camera on the sidelines was then brought forward and showed to the officials, but this was in vain as the score remained at 55-54 Birmingham.
Heartbreak for Coventry, who undoubtedly played very well, and on another day could have won the match, but for the Lionesses and their fans it was another opportunity to cheer a hard-fought victory. Even champions are allowed off-days, and this was certainly that for Birmingham, but they battled and won a thrilling game.