Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters are now one match away from a magnificent treble in the inaugural season of the Women’s British Basketball League.
Hatters have already won the WBBL Trophy and League Championship - pipping Nottingham Wildcats to the silverware in both competitions, and it’s Nottingham they must beat again in Sunday’s Play Off final at Worcester Arena.
Hatters reached the final with an 82-63 victory over Barking Abbey Crusaders while Wildcats put out Leicester Riders 79-62.
The Sheffield side were powered to their 23rd successive win – a run dating back to October – by league MVP Stephanie Gandy, who hit 30 points to lead the Hatters for the sixth time in the last seven games.
Vanessa Ellis’s team had much the better of Crusaders in the regular season, winning both league games by double-figures, and they did the damage early on in this semi-final, with Gandy leading the way to an early 24-14 lead.
Crusaders, who finished sixth in the league and had already knocked out one higher seed on their way to the semis, proved hard to shake off, as Evelyn Adebayo hit nine first half points. But she couldn’t match Gandy’s 16 first-half points which left the score at 42-32.
Hattersedged further ahead in the third quarter to 61-48, before Spanish forward Estela Royo Torres, who led the league in points per minute this season, took over to hit ten second half points as they won the fourth quarter comfortably.
Hatters 82 (24,42,61) (Gandy 30, Torres 16, Naylor 10)
Barking 63 (14,32,48) (Brantlova 13, Wabara 13, Adebayo 12).
Hatters duo Helen Naylor and Gandy are in the initial GB candidate list for EuroBasket Women 2015. But the team will be without Hatters’ guard Lauren-Thomas Johnson who said: “I am unable to be with the team this year due to recurring injuries and other commitments over the summer which clash with the GB programme. However, I wish the girls nothing but the best.”