Following the men’s late drama earlier in the morning, the women’s basketball side were hoping to amend the men’s loss and gain four points for Lancaster at Roses. The ladies have won near enough everything they could this year, remaining unbeaten in the league, only losing to Premier North opposition in the BUCS cup. Lancaster have developed into a team which can be regarded as one of the best in the country, meaning York were in for a tough match, if they wanted to replicate their men’s performance on Roses Sunday.
Lancaster women were promoted into the Premier North division and York’s were relegated into the 3a BUCS league this year, making for a gulf of four divisions between the two universities, and sure enough, that gap in quality proved too much for York on this occasion.
Led by Captain Damla Tonuk and guided astutely by Coach Matt Covre, the match began with a slow start as nerves perhaps submerged the players. York took an early lead in the opening minutes of the encounter but were soon pegged back after Nicki Poulson got Lancaster’s first few points on the board, following a delightful layup. With less than a minute on the timer, of the first quarter, Lancaster were up 11-10, only needing to hold the ball and see out the remaining few seconds to go into the second quarter with the lead. However, much to the fury of Lancaster’s coach, the team lost possession ending with York breaking clear and scoring at the other end – 11-12 the first quarter ended.
This would be the last time York held the lead, as Tonuk opened the second quarter with the first of two three pointers she would see drop. This shot became the turning point of a match which saw Lancaster continue to move clear of their York rivals. In fact, York didn’t reply until the third quarter as Lancaster’s superiority became established.
Tonuk was brilliant all game, leading with real panache and easily one of the best players on the court. Her drives to the basket left York in a mess, who could not deal with her. Tonuk’s combination play with Claudia Tse was excellent, the teams defence too, was great, particularly Nazli Kayalp who added some crucial interceptions to the cause.
In truth this was a real team performance, the speed of Lancaster’s transition from defence to attack was superb, they dominated all over the court, and by the end of the third quarter they had reached an unassailable lead, 39-18.
With the ladies winning emphatically, news reached the sports hall, that if they held their lead, Lancaster would secure the 50th Roses – as the four points on offer would surpass the 163.5 points total. The atmosphere around the court was electric, a packed audience would bear witness to a Lancaster overall win, and the noise levels grew to spur the team on to victory. The team soaked up the atmosphere of the buzzing Lancastrian crowd ad took the full time score to an incredible 62-27; as York fumbled helplessly under Lancaster’s onslaught.
On the sound of the buzzer, the court was flooded with players and fans celebrating the team’s achievement and the Roses victory. For a lot of the players on court, this would be their final game for the university, which led to a stream of tears and emotional hugging, as the magnitude of the occasion sunk in.
The women’s basketball have been a shining light of the University’s sporting excellence over the past few years, a group which have knitted together strongly and truly deserved this crowning glory.
Speaking to Captain Tonuk after the game, she commented: “It was a tough game but we played well, we’re all really proud to play for the uni and we proved that by winning a difficult match”.
Coach Covre described the match as “the biggest match of their lives”, and boy did they rise to the occasion.