Match Report: Rockets Women 55-75 Thames Valley Cavaliers

Despite a spirited second half display, City of Birmingham Rockets women suffered defeat at the hands of a strong Thames Valley outfit on Saturday evening at the Nechells Wellbeing Centre.

The damage was done in the first half as the Cavaliers raced out into a healthy lead and took a 41-20 advantage into the break.

Rockets did outscore their opponents in the second half, but the deficit was simply too big to claw back. The home team struggled against their taller opponents and were out-rebounded 71-39 overall, which was the key difference between the teams. 

The result leaves Birmingham second bottom of the standings and in need of three wins to be in with a chance of maintaining their WNBL Division One status.

Birmingham started with Michelle Turner, Nuri Seyedagha-Calderon, Catarina Seixas, Milly Harrison and Grace Brownell.

Turner opened the scoring for Rockets hitting a three from deep, assisted by Seixas, before stealing the ball on the next possession to set Seyedagha-Calderon on her way to the basket for her to make an impressive 3-point play to take the lead 6-5.

However, Cavaliers began to take control from that moment, going on a devastating 15-0 run.

Birmingham had to respond and were aided by Enke Pashaj, who was introduced to the game and played with a lot of energy and confidence. She found Turner in a good position, leading to free throws being made, then made a score herself by cleverly avoiding several defenders to reach the basket. 

Bibiloni ended the quarter with a jump shot, set up by Seyedagha-Calderon to help restore some calm, but the lead was already imposing at 11-28 to the visitors.

Importantly, Bibiloni opened the scoring in the second quarter with a two-pointer assisted by Ellie Pierpoint, who was having a strong impact off the bench at both ends. Seyedagha-Calderon then cut through the defence to score and reduce the lead a little further.

Unfortunately though, another double-digit run of points by Thames Valley over the next few minutes left the score at 16-40, leaving Rockets with a mountain to climb. There was a mini response from the home team just before half time with scores from Seixas and Harrison, intelligently found by Danielle Wallis, which left the score at 20-41 going into the break.

With the game all but over in terms of the result, Birmingham needed to come out in the second half and restore some pride and confidence ahead of further crucial games coming up. They certainly displayed good intentions and Grace Brownell hit a long-range three early on, quickly followed by an excellent 3-point play made by Seyedagha-Calderon.

Turner was controlling the offence and managed to find Seyedagha-Calderon through traffic to make another layup. Coach Allen’s team were more competitive in this quarter and Preccila Ocrah made two off the glass as she was unselfishly assisted by Heather Maxwell. 

However, whilst Cavaliers were not as effective on offence as in the first half, they edged further ahead yet again at the end of the quarter: Rockets 30-61 Cavaliers.

The fourth quarter was an entirely different game and the crowd finally came into the contest too as the home side played with more purpose and togetherness.

A Pashaj steal led to an amazing three from Pierpoint under pressure. Pierpoint was then sent to the line and made both shots in a performance that saw her score 10 points on the back of 75% field goals, combined with three rebounds and some excellent defence.

A fourth steal of the game by Pashaj led to Pierpoint and Biblioni combining well to score uncontested under the basket. Biblioni, Seyedagha-Calderon and Pierpoint all made further scores over the next few minutes as Rockets slowly cut the lead and demonstrated what they are capable of.

Pierpoint and Brownell both made three-point shots following good ball rotation, then Seixas finished off Rockets scoring for the night, sinking two layups in the final minute. Rockets battled hard in the second half and particularly the final quarter, outscoring their opponents and closing the gap.

However, the game ended in defeat, 55-75, with Thamas Valley deservedly taking the victory.

Birmingham can take heart from how they played towards the end and the fact they kept battling throughout. Nine different scorers contributed to the Birmingham total and Seyedagha-Calderon joined Pierpoint in double-figures with 13 points, 3 assists and 4 steals. 

Our next game is at home against CoLA Southwark on Saturday 24th February, tipping off at 5pm at the Nechells Wellbeing Centre as part of another double-header. Come along and show your support at this crucial time of the season.