Published: 17 April 2018 at 12:19
Anglia Ruskin University’s women’s basketball team won 79-64 against Oxford Brookes to reach the National League play-off final for the first time in the history of the University.
ARU got off to a fast start and held a double digit lead for several periods before finishing the first half 41-32 up.
Oxford rallied and levelled the scores at 59-59 with four minutes to go in the final quarter but ARU raised their intensity to breakaway. The final whistle blew with ARU winning the game by 15 points which sparked jubilant celebrations from the players and the local crowd.
The performances in the last few months have been a remarkable turnaround from the first half of the season. A slow start saw the team bottom of the league with a 0-8 record but they salvaged the season by winning 12 of the remaining 14 matches to end the season in the play-off places. Having qualified for the play-offs in 7th place, they faced second seeds Southwark Pride in the quarter-finals, which was a thrilling game that ARU won 59-67.
The final will be played against Essex Blades in Manchester on Sunday 29 April at the National Basketball Performance Centre in Manchester.
Cristina Baiocco, the women’s basketball team coach, said: "We are very pleased to have reached the final. It was an unexpected but deserved achievement because the girls showed great strength and character.
“They have grown a lot since the beginning of the season thanks to a constant effort during training. I expect a very hard-fought final with plenty of tactical solutions.
“We know the value of Essex very well, they have valuable players and a long reserve list. They have always been very consistent during this season.
“However, the most important thing is that what we know even better are our strengths and our weaknesses so we will work hard once again in order to improve ourselves and to face this final game to the best of our possibilities. We have to face this match with the same determination showed during our last matches."