Birmingham’s Women’s 1st’s fell to defeat against a strong Nottingham Trent outfit 54-70 at home on Wednesday afternoon.
Nottingham Trent came out of the gate scorching from downtown, and the Lions couldn’t hope to extinguish the flames. Brilliant ball movement from NTU dissected the Lion’s zone defence, finding shooters in rhythm and wide open behind the arc. Birmingham evidently rocked by such early precision, couldn’t match such accuracy on the other end, and despite strong fundamental use of the pick and roll the team couldn’t find the bottom of the net. A dominating first quarter created a mountain for Birmingham to climb, with NTU leading 26-11 heading into the second.
The second quarter saw both teams tighten up on the defensive end and scoring in the half court largely dried up. Birmingham’s Claire Gold began heating up from the three-point line and led Birmingham in the second. Most opportunities to score came on the fast break, and the Lion’s looked to run impressively, finding the outlet runners on multiple occasions. Birmingham added 7 points and NTU dropped 9 to leave the score 18-37 at the half time break.
The third quarter saw Birmingham bounce back with increased energy, especially from the bench, with several players acting as spark plugs. This energy manifested itself on the offensive glass, and the Lions snagged several extra possessions. NTU continued to impress on the offensive end, displaying unselfish team ball, finding shooters like number 25 and 12 who continued to rain it down from outside. Birmingham’s response was to get ugly in the paint, finding players at the post who successfully drew fouls and the Lions found a friendly home at the free throw line. Birmingham played with a grittiness that showed character, and dragged themselves back into the match with the score 38-51 at the buzzer.
The fourth quarter was a tapestry of back and forth intrigue and exhilarating play. Birmingham, again leaning on the inside out game, found Claire Gold repeatedly from outside, while continuing to draw fouls on the interior early in the quarter. Alongside the offensive uptick, the Lions began to lock down on the other end, jumping passing lanes to come up with steals, and generally throwing a spanner into the formerly efficient NTU machine. In a stretch of play Birmingham forced three straight turnovers, and converted on the break with a display of vision and fancy finishing.
However, like the best teams do, NTU found a way to reverse the run which had drawn Birmingham within 7 points. They leant on the outside shooting which had brought them such early success, and despite a proud fight from the Lions they closed the quarter in force, leaving the score 54-70.
Ultimately, the game was won and lost in the 1st quarter, and Birmingham couldn’t climb this particular Everest.