Severn Stars’ Head Coach, Sam Bird was disappointed with her team’s performance as they fell to a 64-46 loss to Saracens Mavericks, saying that “it was not the performance that we wanted”.
Stars looked to cause an upset against second-placed Mavericks at the University of Worcester Arena, coming into the game full of confidence after an impressive away win against Strathclyde Sirens.
However, they were left frustrated on the night as they struggled to convert in front of goal and, despite a strong defensive performance, were unable to overcome the title contenders.
Bird said: “We’d spoken about focusing on the performance and the process and I was particularly disappointed in the first quarter when we were level and then, in the last two minutes, we lost concentration and allowed them to score four or five goals in a row. When we play well, we play beautifully but we don’t do it for long enough.”
In a closely contested start to the first quarter, Mavericks took an early 3-1 lead. Stars responded quickly through shooter Georgia Rowe, after mid-court duo Iona Darroch and Lucy Harris combined to split the Mavericks’ defence. A stunning intercept by Stars’ defender Jodi-Ann Ward prevented the visitors from adding to their lead, before a quick-fire interchange between Harris, Darroch and shooter, Maryka Holtzhausen, allowed Rowe to bring the Stars within one goal of the visitors. However, the speedy attack of Mavericks dominated towards the end of the quarter and a string of mistakes from the home side allowed them to build an impressive lead, ending the quarter 10-17.
Stars started the second quarter brightly as Holtzhausen found shooter Rowe with a beautiful ball, making the scores 13-22. Ward produced the highlight play of the quarter, with a flying intercept as Stars’ defence worked hard to keep the away side within reach. But mistakes in the attacking third continued, and Mavericks opened up a 10 goal lead, with Mavericks’ attackers, Georgia Lees and Sasha Corbin, playing a pivotal role in the mid-court.
Stars’ defender, Sam Cook, made an impressive four consecutive defensive stops. This gave Stars the opportunity to compose themselves as they looked to reduce the deficit. Stars ended the half positively, quickly transitioning up-court before Holtzhausen found Rowe with a pinpoint pass, leaving the home side 23-33 behind.
Head Coach, Bird, made changes, bringing in Halimat Adio at goal keeper. The teams went goal for goal in a cagey start to the third quarter, but it was Mavericks who opened up a 15 goal lead thanks to clinical shooting from Georgia Fisher.
Bird brought on Paige Reed at goal attack and Harris back to centre. Harris made an instant impact as she beautifully floated a ball over to Darroch, before a quick interchange between Reed and Rowe allowed Stars to score. Ward produced a fantastic defensive stop to end the quarter on a high, but Mavericks continued to dominate and Stars found themselves behind 35-53 with it all to do in the final quarter.
Stars started it promisingly, as Darroch floated the ball into Cara-Lea Moseley, on at wing attack, before finding Rowe who was clinical under the post. Mavericks’ defenders, Lindsay Keable and Jo Trip, continued to dominate in the circle, producing multiple defensive turnovers, making it hard for Stars to convert to goal. Stars’ shooter, Reed, responded by finding Rowe with a perfectly executed pass as Stars chipped away at the deficit. Despite an impressive defensive display, Stars were unable to capitalise in attack and reduce the goal deficit inflicted earlier in the game, allowing Mavericks to take home a 64-46 win.
Bird added: “We need to keep reinforcing those passing options and make sure that we take care of the ball. I was really pleased with how our defence shut down Mavericks and won the ball, so there is lots to be positive about there. Our attack needs to take more responsibility for the performance tonight.”