Ipswich added two more wins to their incredible season and in doing so moved significantly closer to the WNBL Division Two North championship and promotion to Division One next season.
Ipswich travelled to Mansfield on Saturday, where the hosts did a great job of making Ipswich work hard in the second half – something that probably didn’t do the Nottingham Wildcats any favours the following day.
Mansfield, who currently sit in 4th place in the league and are clinging on to the final play-off berth in the North conference, used their considerable experience to avoid another Ipswich blowout, as they held the Suffolk side to just 32 points in the second half as the National Cup winners played below their level.
Thankfully for Ipswich, they had been in fine form in the first half and the 42-15 lead they built in the first half meant they were still able to record a comfortable victory, winning the game 74-43. Harriet Welham led the way with twenty-seven points while Maya Price added an eighteen point, ten rebound double-double.
Sunday saw Ipswich back to their best form, clearly not satisfied with their performance the day before – which was unfortunate for Nottingham, who seemed to bear the brunt for Saturday’s disappointing second half. Ipswich simply eclipsed their opponents, with suffocating defence and high paced offence. Ipswich won the first period 34-13, the second 35-13, the third 30-8 before taking their foot off the gas in the fourth – losing the period 11-12.
Welham was once again the high scorer, notching another thirty-seven points while Esther Little put together a quite absurd stat line of twenty-seven points, fifteen rebounds, eleven assists, and eight steals. Elsewhere for Ipswich, Ashleigh Pink had sixteen points, eight rebounds and seven assists while Price was her usual dominant self with sixteen points, sixteen rebounds and seven steals. The Suffolk side completed the rout 110-46.
“We played five excellent quarters of basketball this weekend – but we wanted eight,” said Head Coach Nick Drane. “The first half against Mansfield we took care of business while in the second half we were not close to our best.
On Sunday vs Nottingham I thought for the first three quarters we were at our best, the pace we played at and the intensity of our play at both ends of the court was great – the fourth quarter was a case of taking our foot off the gas, I don’t think it was a bad quarter.”
Ipswich turn their attention to Northamptonshire Titans next Saturday – the Titans are flying high after a huge win on Sunday against second placed Derby Gems so Ipswich will be taking nothing for granted. “Northampton are a very talented team, and especially at home they will be a handful,” added Drane.
Ipswich need to win two of their final five games to secure the league title but leading scorer Welham is making it clear that the team have their eye’s on a part of history.
“We want to win every game we play,” she said. “We want to go undefeated in the league, we want to win play-offs and we want everybody to know that this is a very special team, a historic team”.
It is mathematically possible that should Ipswich take care of business next Saturday, they could be crown league champions before their next game. If Worcester Wolves drop another game it will be impossible for either Worcester or Derbyshire to catch Ipswich, who are gearing up for a second national championship trophy in this unforgettable season.