A leaping Halima Nakacwa denying Barbados’ centre Sabreena Smith. (Picture by Kenmore Bynoe.)
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World No.7 netball team Uganda She Cranes cracked the Bajan Gems 46-26 to take the three-test series 2-1 in a lopsided decider on Sunday night at the Wildey Gymnasium.
But poor defence, communication and ball handling in mid-court saw the 11th ranked Gems looking more like glass as they reflected a poor image of Saturday night’s series-tying performance.
The Gems surprisingly started with Shonica Wharton at goal shooter instead of Latonia Blackman, leaving Nikita Payne on the bench with Blackman filling the role of goal attack.
Damisha Croney started at wing attack, Sabreena Smith at centre, Teresa Howell wing defence, with captain Rhe-Ann Niles-Mapp and Shonette Bruce in the defence circle. The Gems and She Cranes were perfect shooters in the first quarter hitting 100 per cent of their shots. The visitors were almost telepathic in reading one another’s intentions to swiftly move the ball into their shooting circle 13 times, compared with the Gems’ five.
An out-of-sorts Damisha Croney threw away the ball at 2-8 before being replaced by Tonisha Rock-Yaw, who came on and seemed to be vying for the head baker’s spot by creating the most turnovers.
With the Africans continuing to play a harrying defence and silky smooth offence, the Gems fared even worse in the second quarter, with Payne replacing Blackman, Smith moving to wing attack, Rock-Yaw taking the centre bib and the high-jumping Shonte Seale coming in at wing defence for the under-performing Teresa Howell.
The Bajans scored just four goals as the Ugandans soared to a 24-9 advantage. Coach Sandra Bruce-Small tried more combinations, with Payne moving to goal attack and Blackman returning as shooter while Croney took the wing attack bib from Smith and Rieah Holder entered the fray at centre.
Chants of “defence . . . defence” seemed lost on the Gems as the She Cranes opened leads as big as 15. Blackman sparked some excitement with five successive goals to lift the Bajans to 15-30 and later 24-36.
But with Bruce and Niles-Mapp struggling to contain the visiting shooters, all hopes of a Barbados fightback dissipated.
Stella Oyella, as she had done in the previous tests, led all scorers with 33 goals from 39 shots. Racheal Nanyonga made 11 of 12 and Hadijah contributed two of three.
Blackman, who missed her first shot of the series, scored 17 of 18, while Wharton was perfect from six shots and Payne added five from seven. (KB)