Ipswich extended their unbeaten run to 21 games in the National Playoff Semi Final on Saturday with a comfortable 77-68 win against a stubborn Cardiff Met Archers team.
Ipswich were without National League leading scorer Harriet Welham, while Great Britain international Esther Little was playing only limited minutes after missing the last three weeks due to injury. However, the Suffolk sided showed off their strength in depth and again demonstrated their character with a win in difficult circumstances.
Ipswich opened things up early in the game and didn’t really look back, although a late run from the Archers brought things within single digits, leaving the result looking slightly closer than the game itself had offered.
In Welham’s absense, Ipswich needed to find some extra scoring, and they got it from Maya Price (25 points and 22 rebounds) and Ashleigh Pink (21 points), while Danni Cazey added fourteen.
Ipswich led from start to finish, leading by eleven after the first. The hosts led by sixteen going into the final period, but Cardiff hit some late shots and bring things within single digits, and much like Derby Gems in the final regular season game, Cardiff celebrated as the final buzzer sounded – like they had won the game.
“At this stage of the season, a win is a win,” said Head Coach Nick Drane. “We didn’t play well and we certainly didn’t shoot well, but to advance to the semi-finals with a depleted squad shows great character and proves that every player on this team has a role to play.
“Our preparations for Sevenoaks began last night. We will be having some extra sessions this week and will be very well prepared for the next game.”
There is no time to relax for Ipswich who now turn their attention to the National League Division II Playoff Semi-Final, when they host Sevenoaks Suns next Saturday, again at Copleston. The game will tip at 5pm in what is sure to be an emotionally charged game. In addition to it being a playoff semi-final, this game will be the team’s last home game of what has been a historic season, as well as being a final home game for Ashleigh Pink, Maya Price and Jessica Baker, all of whom are moving on to University after this season having been with the club since they were twelve years old.
Ipswich will be being presented with their NBL Division Two North trophy and individual medals after the game so be sure to be there to witness yet more history.