This week, the Game of the Week team was in attendance at the Lagoon Centre in Paisley to watch St Mirren Saints host Edinburgh Kool Kats in the first round of the Women’s Scottish Cup.
Kats won the tip-off and instantly got the ball to Nicola McBrierty who made a nice mid-range jumper to start things off. Saints’ Captain, Rebecca Cleary then set the tone for her team, making easy work of Kats’ defence as she got inside for the layup on the other end.
On the next play for St Mirren, Cleary drove along the baseline but got blocked. The ball was then picked up by Saints who slowed down the play, finding their rhythm as they settled into the first quarter. Madelen Ingemarsson then used this rhythm to sink a three from the top of the key, putting the home side ahead for the first time, 5-2. After Kats missed on a layup attempt, Cleary responded by making a layup for on the end, further extending Saints’ lead.
After a timeout, Kats came out a lot stronger, making a good effort of moving the ball leading to a good look inside that resulted in a layup. St. Mirren remained dominant however, playing good defense and making it difficult for Kats to find a good shot, resultantly leading to a shot clock violation early on in the game.
Cleary continued to be a force for Saints, scoring 16 of her 19 points for the night in just the first quarter. Taryn Turnbull also made her own impact felt, missing a jump shot but then collecting her own rebound and putting it back in from just inside the arc. In the latter half of the quarter, Saints went on a bit of a run that ultimately ended with Anna Mitchell dropping a three-pointer to put the team up 21-9.
Tracey Philips then answered back for Edinburgh, as she was fouled on her way to the rim, making the basket and going on to sink the free throw to bring the game back to within single digits.
The remainder of the first quarter consisted of a three-point splash by Saint’s Nicole Davidson while Edinburgh managed to go to the line twice, knocking down one each for Casey Morrison and Emma Findlay. The Kats swapped to a full court press for the final minute, putting lots of pressure on the Saints, who still manage to get three shots up, and collect an offensive rebound each time. As the first quarter came to an end, the home team was up 27-16.
Kats came out with more of the same in the second quarter, as Ingemarsson sank a mid-range jumper for Saints to extend their lead even further. The consistent passing game of the Kats then found Findlay in space, as she made a big three-pointer for the visitors. Turnbull came back with her own shot from distance for the Saints, making a three-pointer, to push the score to 32-19.
After a missed shot from Ingemarsson, Edinburgh pushed the ball up the court and found Phillips with an opportunity to shoot but Saints’ defence was not allowing allow any easy shots. Philips got another opportunity however, as after Saints forced a turnover, they then found her again spotting up, knocking down the jumper as it swished through the net. The Kats were strong on the offensive glass for a lot of the first half, garnering a number of second-chance opportunities from their effort inside.
After Lauren Mckinlay made a shot inside to put Saints up 38-23, the Kats responded with 7-0 run, topped off with Finlay splashing home a three-pointer to trim Saints lead to single digits once again at 38-30. Both teams traded shots for the remainder of the half, but the Saints remained in control, closing out the half 50-38 in their favour.
Speaking with basketballscotland at halftime, St. Mirren coach, Chris Cleary was very pleased with his team’s performance in the first half; “50 points in a half is pretty good, defensively pretty strong, we just need to sort out our defensive boards and we’ll be alright.”
Coming out of the locker room, Saints continued the stellar play that they had shown in the first half, as Mitchell made a mid-range jumper and Ingemarsson banked in a shot inside. Iona Ross made an impact for the Saints in the third, adding 6 points off the bench and scoring a tightly contested reverse layup that brought the crowd to its feet.
Saints continued to pile on the pressure, not letting up on either side of the floor. As Fiona Harris made a long-range jumper to close out the quarter, Saints held a resounding 68-48 lead over Kats.
Going into the final quarter, the Kats had quite a task ahead of them. Despite the lead that loomed over them, the Kats came out strong, as Leanne Page made a two-pointer, followed by Rachel Boyd getting to the line and knocking down two free throws to close the gap on Saints. A spin move from Cleary in the paint then let her dish the ball out to Nicole Davidson at the perimeter who finished off one of the plays of the night, dropping a three-pointer from the sweet assist.
Kats then proceeded to go on a 7-0 run, making a final push as the game edged closer to the final buzzer. This was eventually ended by Cleary as she assisted on the play to Mckinlay, who managed to make the shot off the glass.
With just three minutes left and the score sitting at 73-59, Edinburgh called a timeout and looked determined to make up for their performance all game.
Following the timeout, a consistent run from the free throw line got the Kats a solid six points in a row, bringing it to a 10-point game with a minute and a half left. Page took the game back to the open court as she collected an offensive rebound and put it back in for valuable points to bring the score to a single digit lead.
With the score standing at 73-65 with a minute left in the game, Ingemarsson kept the game out of reach for Kats with three made free throws. The momentum picked up to finish off the evening with Findlay making a breakaway lay-up and a final hurrah from McBrierty with the last lay-up of the game. However, it was not enough for the Kats, as the score was settled 76-69 to the Saints.
Despite their final quarter performance, Edinburgh Coach, Ben Findlay was not impressed with how the game went overall; “Too little too late, the damage was done well before that. We have to make sure we don’t do this again in the league as that’s us out of the cup.”
Chris Cleary took a lot of positives from his teams win; “Scrappy fourth quarter on both accounts, I think. But they stepped up and got the win. Every single one of them did exactly what they were asked to do. A few wobbles but they helped to pick each other up. They had a hard summer and worked hard and this is the reward beating the number one team in the country in my opinion.”
St. Mirren next face Glasgow University on the 9th October whilst the Edinburgh Kool Kats are on the road again to play Falkirk Fury on the 8th October.