- National Teams
London Lions produced a stunning first leg performance to claim a memorable 65-64 triumph over Bourges in the EuroCup playoffs at Crystal Palace, on Wednesday evening.
Mark Clark’s side outplayed their French counterparts with a determined effort on both ends of the floor as they will now take a slender lead into next week’s second leg.
Jo Leedham-Warner top scored with 16 points and had eight rebounds with three other players in double figures in the incredible victory.
Leedham-Warner had an immediate impact against her former side; cleaning up her own miss for the score before finding Azania Stewart inside for a 6-2 lead. The Lions were locked in on the defensive end as they held their opponents to just four points in the first six minutes.
However, Bourges used a 7-0 run to move ahead and they would hold a 14-17 advantage after the opening quarter.
Winterburn’s three-pointer sparked a 7-0 run of their own at the start of the second as the Lions re-took the initiative. Charles was aggressive driving to the basket and was making things happen at both ends as a three was followed by a steal/assist in a pivotal stretch.
Leedham-Warner then hit a three as the gap soon grew to nine points at 40-31, but Bourges would have the final say in the half to cut their deficit to six points at the break.
The Lions imposed themselves on the tie with their first half effort and a low-scoring third quarter ensued with the two teams involved in a gripping battle. Charles knocked down a second triple with Shanice Beckford-Norton followed with a nice move to help their side take a 49-43 lead into the final 10 minutes.
Bourges were not about to go away and the number-1 ranked side from the regular season made their move inside the fourth to make it a one-point game. They re-took the lead with under five minutes remaining, but Leedham-Warner responded with five points in quick succession to make it 61-57.
A tense finale followed with every possession counting in the aggregate format and Bourges again reduced their arrears to a single point with an and-1 making it 65-64 with 28.6 seconds remaining, but the Lions held their nerve to spark jubilant scenes.
– The second leg takes place in Bourges next Wednesday
– Lions starters: Leonard, Winterburn, Leedham-Warner, Charles & Stewart
– Lions were also without Cassie Breen (COVID-19)