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Report: Bristol Flyers Women 65-40 Anglia Ruskin University

Bristol Flyers Women schooled Anglia Ruskin University on Saturday with a confident and comfortable win.

At the start, it was anyone’s game. Kasia Jarkowska opened the scoring for ARU, Maialen Zilbeti put the Flyers first points on the board with a three shortly after. Fiona Fox and Hannah Watkins played good defence early on, the latter also finding the basket and giving her team a four-point lead. Barbara Gonzalez-Palacios’s shot attempts kept falling short, but she continued to probe and eventually made a jump shot to reduce the arrears to 7-5.

Through a combination of good defence and taking advantage of ARU’s sloppy passing, the Flyers started to pull away. Mid-way through the quarter came one of the moves of the game: Hannah Watkins finding Liisa Juul in the paint, who passed to an unguarded Hannah Till for the layup.

A late layup attempt from Amani Clark was blocked by Maria Theodorou inches from the basket. On the subsequent play, Theodorou’s shot was blocked by Liisa Juul who made a three at the buzzer to give the Flyers an 18-9 lead at the end of the first.

Juul opened the scoring in Q2 with another three pointer, and then made a third 1:30 in.

ARU had plenty of attempts at basket but none of them seemed to be falling for them, in part thanks to strong defensive effort from the Flyers who forced their opponents into making mistakes when on offence.

The Flyers reached an 18-point lead, which was finally cut six minutes in. ARU then attempted a fast break, which was prevented my Amani Clark. She handed the ball off to Maialen Zilbeti who made a three to reassert the home team’s lead.

With two minutes to go Zilbeti missed a three-pointer, Sandra Yebdri found the ball and put it up but her shot also fell short, Amani Clark grabbed the rebound and finally layed it up. This and a two-pointer from Hannah Watkins would give the Flyers a 26-point lead going into halftime.

Fiona Fox opened the second half with a jump shot, and Liisa Juul found an unguarded Maialen Zilbeti also for two, but ARU responded immediately and started to fight back. They upped their defensive hustle in this quarter, and successfully blocked a high percentage of the Flyers’ inside shots. In addition, Nadege Talva and Maria Theodorou took care of their team’s scoring.

The away team’s big defensive effort resulted in a low-scoring quarter. Nadege Talva ended a long period of no scoring with a minute left, but the Flyers still held a comfortable 48-23 lead at the end of the third quarter.

Q4 started off following the same pattern: ARU played good defence, but could not find good fortune on offence. The Flyers, meanwhile, were well and truly in the driver’s seat.

ARU attempted to force the issue by slowing the game down, Nadege Talva continued to find the basket and Barbara Gonzalez-Palacios was big on the defensive end, as she had been throughout the game.

As the quarter went on ARU’s chances kept falling short, and the Flyers capitalized. Consistent scoring from Fiona Fox and Amani Clark – who made one layup just as the shot clock expired – kept the Flyers well and truly in control. Fox and Clark would finish with 12 and 11 points respectively.

Macioszek put up a big scoring effort off the ARU bench and Angeles Colpao made a late three but by then it was all about damage limitation. A foul shot from Kasia Jarkowska at the death only reduced the away team’s deficit to 15 points, and the Flyers celebrated a well-earned victory.

Score by quarter: 18-9, 40-14, 48-23, 65-40

Speaking afterwards to bristolflyers.co.uk, head coach Gareth Till told of what went well and what he will be seeking to improve moving forward:

“There were some good individual performances, but it is a team effort and everyone contributed to the win. We were happy with the way he played in the first half, but you get in that comfort zone of being so many points up and we were very scrappy in the second half, which I think we need to improve on.”

Forward Imke Sittel also gave her view of the game, which would be her last for the Flyers:

“We had a really great first half – Liisa got her shot back, which really helped us out, and Amani was amazing, just getting a lot of steals. Today we were moving really well and got a lot of good looks.

“Bristol Flyers are such a great team, such good girls to play with and really nice coaches. We’re just one big family, really, and it’s breaking my heart to let go.”

The Flyers’ next game will be away to the Bristol Storm on February 26th, and they will next be taking to the floor of the WISE Arena on March 4th against the Exeter Eagles.