Late agony as Sheffield Hatters suffer narrow defeat

Westfierld Health Sheffield Hatters' Georgia Gayle, centre, who made her senior Great Britain debut
Westfierld Health Sheffield Hatters' Georgia Gayle, centre, who made her senior Great Britain debut
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Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters suffered their fist defeat in six as they were pipped 82-79 away by Manchester Mystics in the Women’s British Basketball League.

The defeat came despite a 25-point haul from last season’s league young player of the season Georgia Gayle.

Steph Gandy, 21, and Helen Naylor, 12 were Hatters’ other top scorers as they slipped to their first ever defeat to Mystics.

It was a tight encounter, that went both ways at various points, but Hatters established the biggest lead of the game in the opening minutes at 14-6 after a high-scoring start. A Browne three-pointer got Mystics going, and Georgia Jones - who led their scoring with a double-double of 17 and 10 assists - scored five in a 7-2 run that tied the game at 18.

Mystics took the lead on Sierra Schwellenbach’s second triple of the first period, but the teams were inseparable for much of the first half, until Hatters broke a tie at 43 with the last five points before the break, Helen Naylor and Stephanie Gandy sharing 24 points for the visitors up to that point.

In the first seventeen minutes of the second half there were only three occasions when the teams were separated by more than one shot, and that situation prevailed all the way up to the final stages of the game.

Hatters hit a run that looked like it would win it for them as, with six minutes to play, they went 14-2, Gayle scoring six, to take a 79-72 lead inside the last two minutes.

But Mystics emerged from a timeout to finish the game amazingly, with the last ten points. Jones hit a triple and Nicola Welling tied the game at 79 with 35 seconds to play.

The hosts forced Naylor into a miss with tough defence, before Jones dished her tenth assist to Amy Browne for a buzzer-beating three-pointer .

Mystics made it ten straight wins in all competitions to remain joint-top with Nottingham Wildcats. Hatters slip to third.