London Lions women suffer Euro Cup debut defeat to Zabiny Brno

Holly Winterburn of London Lions in action against Zabiny Brno

Holly Winterburn of London Lions in action against Zabiny Brno - Credit: Graham Hodges

London Lions were unable to overcome a poor start as their home FIBA Women’s Euro Cup debut ended in a 82-74 loss against Zabiny Brno. 

Mark Clark’s side outscored the visitors by four in the final three periods but were unable to build on last week’s opening victory as a  25-13 scoreline in the first ten minutes proved fatal. 

Holly Winterburn led the way for the hosts, scoring 13 of her 21 points in the first half, adding six rebounds, five assists and as many steals.

Kennedy Leonard hit nine points in each half, adding five boards and six assists in a team-high 37 minutes, while Joanna Leedham also had five rebounds to go with her ten points. 

Lions shooting proved to be their downfall, converting 31 percent from the floor in comparison to the visitors’ 43 percent as they failed to take advantage of have two more shots than the Czech side.

The visiting team were led by a 17 point, 13 rebound double-double from Anna Jurcenkova along with 16 points and seven boards by Bria Holmes. 

Winterburn opened the game’s scoring at the foul line and an even start to the action saw her put Lions 8-7 ahead after three minutes before ten unanswered points in a key run gave the visitors a 17-8 lead at the midway stage of the quarter. 

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A triple for Winterburn off Leedham’s assist broke the run, but although she took her tally to nine with another pair at the charity stripe, the visitors took control to go into the first break ahead by 12. 

The second period was much better for Clark’s side as a floating lay-up from Winterburn capped a 6-0 start from the hosts and forced a Brno timeout.

Azania Stewart of London Lions in action against Zabiny Brno

Azania Stewart of London Lions in action against Zabiny Brno - Credit: Graham Hodges

Leonard drained from downtown following an Azania Stewart block to make it 27-25 midway through the quarter. 

Winterburn turned provider as Cassie Breen buried a triple to bring Lions within a point and force another timeout with four minutes on the clock and the move worked as the visitors closed out the half strongly to lead 37-32. 

Winterburn provided the steal and assist for Stewart to get Lions off the mark in the second half before she drove to the basket to add to her personal tally and make it a three point game. 

Breen kept them in touch from downtown off Leonard’s assist to make it four point game and force a timeout with 4:21 on the clock and Shanice Beckford-Norton made it 51-49 at the foul line shortly after. 

That was as close as London came in the third period, and the visitors pulled away to take a double digit lead before Leonard scored from downtown to help cut the deficit to 62-55 at the final break. 

Leonard kept the visitors’ lead down to seven with Lions’ first basket of the fourth quarter Zabiny were ahead by ten going into the last three minutes.

Lions still had one more run in them as Leedham’s steal saw Beckford-Norton drive to the basket for a lay-up and Leedham hit a trey to give them a glimmer of hope.

Winterburn came up with a steal before Breen was sent to the foul line where she split a pair but that was as close as the hosts came before Michaela Vondrackova hit a triple to wrap up her side’s win. 


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