London Lions stay alive in EuroCup Finals, despite suffering first loss -

London Lions stay alive in EuroCup Finals, despite suffering first loss

London Lions fell to a 75-68 defeat against Besiktas in the first leg of the EuroCup Finals, in Istanbul, on Wednesday evening.

Stella Kaltsidou’s side will need to overturn a seven-point deficit in London next week if they are to be crowned champions – but it could have been worse having trailed by as many as 18 points.

Holly Winterburn finished with a game-high 23 points along with five rebounds and five assists with Karlie Samuelson adding 16 points in a second half flurry.

Box score.

London missed their opening four shots in front of over 3,000 passionate supporters at the Besiktas Akatlar Arena before Kat Snytsina settled any possible lingering nerves with a corner three to open their account.

Winterburn then began to take over: back-to-back scores from inside, a driving layup and then a triple in a short span to give London their first lead at 13-12. The GB guard soon moved into double figures, but it was in the midst of an 8-2 Besiktas run with Serbian Jovana Nogic pulling the strings at the other end.

It was out of a timeout that London first went with the Gustafson-Fagbenle partnership in the frontcourt, but the hosts weathered any possible storm inside and moved into a double-digit advantage at 26-15.

Gustafson scored five straight – including a tough and-1 finish, but it was an otherwise rare glimpse of the London’s interior strength, as 26-20 soon became 36-22. The gap was at 13 at half-time, with a big swing in the rebounding battle in favour of Besiktas, while London were also 2-of-11 from deep.

There were similar struggles when play resumed as neither defence gave up anything easy. Dana Evans – who had been largely contained throughout – inspired a bright spurt with four quick points and Besiktas were up 18 at 51-33.

Then back came the Lions. Crucial stops were conjoined with big triples from Samuelson and Winterburn with a 12-0 run reviving the British side’s fading hopes.

Besiktas restored a double-digit cushion early in the fourth, but London stayed with it – riding the hot hand of Samuelson and a big three from Gustafson cut the gap to six.

Again, it was a 10-point game when Evans moved to a team-high 20 points, but London had the final say – again from downtown as Snytsina cut the final margin to seven with the tie well and truly still alive.

Uncharacteristic errors plagued London at times throughout the evening, but this is a team that has become very accustomed to winning and their fighting spirit proved pivotal in keeping the tie to a single-digit differential.

Onto London. It might well be the last European dance, it could prove to be very, very special.


– This was the first time a British team competed in a European Finals
– London now have a [14-1] record in EuroCup Women this season
– Starters: Peddy, Winterburn, Snytsina, Samuelson & Fagbenle
– The second leg takes place at the Copper Box Arena next Wednesday (10th April)

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