Lady Cavs in sight of title
WOMEN BASKETBALL’S newest rivalry sure feels a lot like the last one.
Right down to its epic finishes.
Tamisha Flatts hit four free throws inside the final two minutes, including the go-ahead pair, before Toni Atherley missed a game-tying trey at the horn as Station Hill Cavaliers took a 1-0 finals lead following Thursday’s 70-67 last-second thriller over UWI Blackbirds at the YMCA.
The win put the former ten-time champs within a game of reclaiming a league title they surrendered to the now defunct Clapham Bulls over the last two seasons.
But the rivalry has been reborn – and fittingly on the sport’s biggest stage – with the Bulls’ Big Three of Atherley, Sade Clarke and Jennifer Joseph-Hackett now leading UWI in their latest finals showdown with the Cavs.
And it didn’t take long for the two factions to produce another classic game, with this series opener almost mirroring that of Station Hill’s last-second heartbreak a year ago.
This time, it was the Big Three who came up short in their rally despite Clarke’s huge fourth-quarter heroics that helped UWI erase an eight-point deficit (52-44).
Having already seen her side come back from down 13, Clarke appeared to put on a performance for the ages while scoring 13 of her 29 points in the fourth, including UWI’s first nine of the period to give Blackbirds the lead.
Cavs appeared to end the rally behind buckets from Maria Cumberbatch and Jamil Studer, but Clarke was back at it again with a pair of free throws following Joseph-Hackett’s turnaround jumper that put UWI ahead 63-61.
However, Atherley blew an opportunity to give the Blackbirds a two-possession lead by missing two free throws before needlessly putting Flatts on the line for the go-ahead foul shots (64-63).
Studer then twice stretched the Cavs’ lead to three (68-65) with a minute left after hitting four free throws to sandwich another clutch drive from Clarke at the other end.
UWI still had one last shot, but Atherley missed from deep and never got the benefit of the whistle on a questionable “no call”.
It proved the stunning end to a gripping first quarter.
With Wanda Agard-Belgrave constantly double-teamed, Studer took over, flashing to the ring from the weak side to engineer a 12-4 second-quarter run and a significant 34-24 advantage.
UWI battled back via successive jumpers from Clarke, only to fall behind by double digits again (42-29) on the other side of the break.
The Blackbirds still managed to rally again, pulling within two (46-44) behind Clarke and Atherley as a brief shower delay thwarted Station Hill’s momentum.
However, the run seemed futile when the Cavs ended the period scoring eight straight points.
Studer finished with 29 points and Cumberbatch added 16 for the lady Cavs, who will be looking to wrap up the series tomorrow night at the Barbados Community College. Joseph-Hackett finished with 16 points while Atherley scored 11.