The first match of the season for the Women’s Blues Basketball squad saw them take on Oxford Brookes, a team newly entered in to the Division 1A Midlands League after being relegated from the Premier League. Oxford Brookes were an unknown entity to the Blues as they took to the court but it didn’t take long for Cambridge to assert an early dominance, with guard Mie Monti snatching a quick turn over in the first few seconds of the match. However, the team couldn’t convert any of their advantageous play until the third minute, when a quick succession of goals started by captain Leo de Jonge, and followed by Claire Ratican and new guard Lauren Ness, pushed them out to an early lead. In fact, Oxford Brookes was kept scoreless for the entire first quarter and for much of the second until Lopez hit a huge three-pointer in the 8th minute to break the drought. This wasn’t enough, though, to stop the barrage that was de Jonge, dominating the basket in the second half with 14 points.
Play resumed in the second half with a quick foul conceded by the Blues in the first minute which saw Rehman score a successful foul shot. The persistence of the Oxford Brookes’ zone defence saw Cambridge’s attack slow down making it a much more even game with goals being scored back and forth between the two teams. It wasn’t until the final minutes of the quarter that Cambridge, frustrated by the slow play, recovered some of their killer-instinct led by Becky Illingworth whose relentless attack of the basket saw her draw some quick fouls that sent her to the line twice at the end of the quarter. Illingworth continued to lead the offense in the opening of the final quarter scoring 4 points in the first 3 minutes. Her energy was echoed by Emily Lees and new forward Nicola Duffy who took down 5 and 3 offence rebounds respectively. Tiredness saw Cambridge concede another 4 points in the second part of the quarter and some sloppy play on both sides resulted in a few needless turnovers which led Coach Amalio Fernández-Pacheco to call for precision in execution from the Blues women. With renewed focus, the Blues closed out the game with another 4 points from Ratican and new point-guard Annie Lyons, giving Cambridge their first win of the season with a 52 vs 14 score line.
Captain de Jonge was the decisive scorer with 19 points, followed by Ratican scoring 9 points and Illingworth finishing with 6 points. This was a strong start to the season and a much-needed emphatic win to glue together the new squad. The Blues welcome a number of new additions to the team including guards Saffron Hicks and Aicha Tigany Massrali, forwards Lara Sieg, and Nadya Pohran and the expertise of new Assistant Coach Laura Wright. With such a deep bench and talented players, the 2017-18 season is bound to be a boomer for the Blues.