Essex Blades cut a path to national final

  • Date

    Fri 15 Dec 17

Cat Lutz (photo credit: Basma AlHashimi)

Our Essex Blades Women’s Basketball team have reached the National Cup final after a resounding 81-50 victory over the Derbyshire Gems at the University of Essex Sports Centre.

Performance Basketball Coach Mark Lloyd was thrilled with the teams efforts. He said: "We are obviously delighted to be in the National Cup Final again for a second time in our short three year history in the National League. The players have worked so hard, both in terms of on a game day itself and also on their attention to detail in the preparation for each game, this is as well as their other major commitment to their studies as student athletes.

"They are having fun, playing hard, focusing on the process and enjoying the results of that hard work. We have come so far in such a short space of time as a programme - we really are now able to align ourselves with the leading University and WNBL Programmes in the country."

Who is up next?

The Blades now enter their second National Cup Final in the last three seasons and are waiting to see who comes out victorious in the other semi-final between Bristol Flyers and Ipswich.

The Blades will be looking to recreate their cup final exploits from two years ago where they edged an extremely tight contest against a Reading Rockets side led by current Blades favourite Cat Lutz. We're all extremely proud of these women for their achievements and can’t wait to see them step out on the floor in the final at the University of East London on Sunday 21 January.

The Essex Blades National League programme is sponsored this season by SportsafeUK Ltd and D Salmon Cars

Basketball is one of three focus sports at Essex that develop and produce student athletes that have represented their countries, as well as going on to secure professional contracts in their respective sports after they graduate. To find out more about our Performance Sport Programme.

Full match report

In front of a noisy Essex home crowd, PhD Sports Psychology student Cat Lutz, formerly of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I Iona College, connected with her first three attempts from beyond the arc and this put the Blades in the driving seat. For the opposition, Jo Clayden was being made to work hard for her looks by MSc Management student Ellie Shaxon but, eventually found her way to score bringing the margin back to just 5. Later in the period, Monika Kucerkova (International Economics) was able to establish her dominance inside with two back to back And-1 plays to stretch the lead back in Essex’s favour. At the end of the quarter the Blades held a 21-11 lead.

The second period was another strong quarter for the Blades. The majority of the scoring within the period came from Monika and Jasmine Ogunjimi (Criminology and socio-legal research) In the quarter, Monika would add 10 points and Jasmine a further 7 as the Blades started to make their mark on the cup contest. At the defensive end, the Blades were able to successfully hinder the offensive threats posed by Derbyshire and started to pull away. The Blades would win the quarter 23-10 and go into the locker room at halftime with a 44-21 advantage.

Despite the 23 point halftime lead, it was noted that Derbyshire would have to try and respond to pull the game back in their favour. The contest was far from done at this point and the Blades could not afford to let their advantage slip. Early in the quarter, Cat Lutz was able to hinder this response by once again showing her ability from the 3-point line as she connected on her first 3 shots. The Blades stretched the lead to 30 when Derbyshire then responded. Kendal James led the push for the visitors with 3 long range jump shots to cut the lead to just 24. However the home team responded and stretched the lead back out towards a 30 point margin. The end of the third quarter held a scoreline of 63-35.

The visitors started the quickest in the opening phases of the fourth. Causeur got to the line on two separate occasions for the visitors and was able to score all four foul-shots. Jasmine would then race down the other end of the court and connect on a three to further establish the Blades’ dominance. With the Gem’s resistance broken, the Blades were able to keep their composure until the buzzer and won the game 81-50 to book their place in the National Cup Final!

Every player contributed superbly to the semi-final win at both ends of the floor. Cat Lutz led the scoring with a double-double performance of 24 points and 12 rebounds. Jasmine Ogunjimi also secured a double-double which featured 17 points and 11 assists. Monika Kucerkova also had an outstanding performance contributing a further 21 points and five blocks.