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Rangers foil UWI

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Rangers foil UWI

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A pivotal third quarter saw defending champions C.O. Williams Rangers survive a scare to shoot down UWI Blackbirds 38-32 when the Barbados Netball Association’s Division 1 league continued at the Netball Stadium on Saturday night.
With Rangers struggling after playing the previous night against Phoenix Gems, the Blackbirds squandered a chance at upsetting one of the “big” teams with their customary second half meltdown.  
UWI, who played in Division 2 last year, have won two matches this season, both against the Gems.
On Saturday night, they led 8-5 and 18-14 with the Rangers looking like novices in holding the ball and looking around for intended receivers rather than running their systematic plays.  
Solid defence by Alicia Harding and consistent attack from Monique James and Mechelle Liburd for UWI had promised an upset.
However, Rangers’ British professional Nikita Piggott was outstanding at goal shooter and alternate goal attack where she constantly received rocket passes close to the pole to beat her defenders on her way to scoring a game-high 26 goals from 30 attempts.  
Olivia Walcott scored nine from 14 and Shakeena Rock four from 11 as coach Sandra Bruce-Small opted to rotate her bench to give her players some rest.
With UWI leading after the first half, Bruce-Small then decided to take charge in the third quarter, returning Tyneisha Rowe to the court to join the hard-working Sabreena Smith and Kathy-Ann Agard in neutralizing their opponents’ midcourt. Rangers then outscored the Blackbirds 14-5 to follow a script which the UWI team rehearsed all season.
James and Liburd scored 16 goals each with Liburd getting one fewer attempt – 21 – than James.
Life will not get any easier for the Blackbirds when they meet the unbeaten Pine Hill St Barnabas at 8 p.m. today.  
St Barnabas, who have an 8-0 record, will be keen to win tonight’s game and Wednesday’s against Guardian General Pride of Villa to qualify top of the standings.  
Tonight, Rangers will meet Spooners Hill in what is expected to be the match-up for the play-off rounds. (KB)