Report by Claire Sackman
Birmingham vs Nottingham. Two bitter rivals, first against second, two teams that play to win and win in style. The court was set for a fast paced, fair and exciting game and both teams certainly didn’t let the crowd down.
The visitors started the brighter of the two teams, establishing the first points on the board and playing at a greater intensity, not helped by the Lions wayward shooting. However, midway through the first quarter Maeve Higham scored a sublime three-pointer to settle the nerves and help keep the home team in contention. Birmingham ended the quarter trailing by three points, 13–16.
Nottingham threatened to runaway with the match as they developed an early seven point lead in the second quarter, however the introduction of Megan Parrott made a notable difference to the team and the tempo at which they played, getting the ball out of hand much quicker than before. Taking advantage of a fast break, with five minutes and 30 seconds remaining of the quarter, Parrott initiated a scoring run for Birmingham, which saw the Lions, for only the second time in the match, take the lead 26 – 22. They held on to the lead with some smart play, running the shot clock down.
The third quarter was very much similar to the first, with Nottingham returning to form. The Lions offence failed to maintain the form shown in the previous quarter and the defence, described as 'sloppy' by coach David Codrington, was showing signs of tiredness. The home team ended the period trailing 33–34, yet the gap could have been greater as the opposition missed two free throws to extend their lead in the final few moments of the quarter.
The final quarter was all to play for, and the home team made the perfect start with Rachel Martin scoring twice in quick succession putting Birmingham back into the lead. But Nottingham showed why they are the current leaders of the table and tied the game at 39–39, with half a quarter still to play. Crucially, Eleanor Minter missed a fine opportunity to claim victory, as she failed to convert two free throws but displayed great team spirit by making it up with great defensive play to break up the visitors attack. In the dying seconds of the game, with only nine seconds remaining, Nottingham seemed to be the victors at 41–44. The Munrow Centre however were treated to a dramatic finish as Holly Kirkham scored a three-pointer to tie the match and send us into overtime. This was a true advert for sport.
Nottingham, though, proved too strong in overtime, as Birmingham lost 46 – 49.
Despite the result, coach Codrington noted there were several positives to take from the game and added thanks to the crowd support and urged Birmingham students to look out for the future fixture against Worcester.