Welham leads from the front as Ipswich down Kestrels

Harriet Welham's stellar performance was the catalyst as a short-handed Ipswich seized a win on the road (Image: Pavel Kricka)

Ipswich produced a huge fourth quarter performance to steal victory on the road at a very tough Solent Kestrels team as they moved to 2-0 in WNBL Division One action.

Ipswich travelled south with a depleted with no less than five players missing due to injury and a sickness bug that had swept through the team, and had to dig deep to earn their first win on the road this season.

The first quarter saw the Suffolk side race out of the blocks, with Harriet Welham in fine form and the pace of the Ipswich offence causing the hosts problems. However, with so many absentees, fatigue was always going to be the issue for Ipswich – with only six fit players available. The quarter went the way of the Suffolk side, but by half time the tide had turned significantly, with Solent winning the second quarter 25-11, giving them a 44-39 advantage.

The third quarter saw the host further extend their lead, and while Ipswich found baskets easy to come by, they simply couldn’t stop the bleeding at the other end, with Solent collecting another twenty-five in the period, taking a seven point advantage into the final period.

Ipswich displayed some of their phenomenal character in the final period, as Nick Drane‘s side went about swinging the momentum with some stifling defence and ruthless execution of offence. Danni Cazey came alive, connecting on two consecutive three-point attempts, while Esther Little’s athleticism suddenly changed the game, controlling both ends of the court.

Key baskets from Welham, Cameron Taylor-Willis and a huge Charlotte Redhead three-point shot saw the visitors build an eight point lead of their own. A Solent three point shot brought the Ipswich lead back to five, but some crucial defensive stops and smart offensive possessions enabled Ipswich to seal a crucial 84-79 victory.

“It wasn’t pretty, but we will take it,” said Ipswich Coach Drane. “Considering what we were up against today, not only in terms of the level of the opposition, but the calibre of players missing from our team, to get a win like this is great.

“I thought every player did their bit, and there were some really big moments from individuals, but ultimately it was a total team effort.”

Ipswich were led by a huge 31 point, thirteen rebound double-double from Welham, who was helped by seventeen points and eight rebounds from Little. Cazey and Redhead added thirteen apiece while fifteen year old Taylor-Willis recorded eleven points and eight rebounds.