The Manchester Met Mystics came out on top after a tough matchup against Durham Palatinates which puts them back at .500 in the standings as they fight for playoff seeding. It was a neck and neck game with the Mystics taking a slim 34-33 lead into halftime. Manchester came out strong in the second half led by Captain Georgia Jones (22 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists) who scored 17 of her 22 points in the half.
Durham’s Kara Elderkin had 19 points and went a perfect 13 of 13 from the line along with 9 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Jazmin Gyulai and Lies Van Straaten both added 9 points with 10 rebounds for Van Straaten. Gyulai, playing in her first WBBL season after 3 years with Anglia Ruskin in the NBL, hit a three point shot with 4:38 left in the fourth to get Durham to within 4 but they couldn’t close the gap any further. Manchester held on and came away with a 64-58 win behind another big game from Jones and some hard work on the boards from Sophia Song and Dominique Allen.
Allen, a member of the 2012 Olympic Team and silver medal winning Commonwealth games squad, playing in her second game back in the Mystics lineup after some time away hasn’t missed a beat. She pulled down 6 rebounds, added in 2 assists a steal and a block and the impact her defensive presence in the post has, is invaluable for the Mystics.
Song who is playing in her first season overseas after four years at UC Davis (and four straight conference titles), had 11 points, 8 rebounds, including 3 offensive boards, and 2 assists. A 30 second span saw her grab an offensive rebound, drop in a layup then come away with the ball, off a Durham missed shot, and finish the sequence hitting from beyond the arc for 3 points. Song is a player who over the course of her High School and College career has shown she is both willing and able to adapt her game in order to do whatever it takes to help her team win. At this point in the season for the Mystics that means getting inside and helping rebound.
Speaking after the game Song talked about her approach and how she has switched up her game recently:
“My focus today was: get rebounds, crash and just bring a ton of energy….usually i’m the one thats the safety or the first one back and I just had to switch the mentality, on this team I need a rebound. A couple of games back I was like I need to make the extra effort to crash and just focus on rebounding. Even in college I didn’t average a whole ton of rebounds… so (i’ve been) making that extra effort to focus on my rebounding.”
It’s an effort that has paid off and seen her pull down 14 rebounds, including 5 offensive, the last two games. Through the first seven games of the season Song was averaging 3.5 rebounds. That change in mentality has seen her almost double her output to 6.6 over the last five games. A win against Oaklands Wolves in mid March saw her with a season high 10 rebounds kicking off her increased contribution.
Manchester head to Caledonia on Saturday looking for another win to push themselves above .500, Song echoes the perspective of teammate Rheanne Bailey (7 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist) who we spoke to earlier in the month, when looking ahead to the next game:
“We just need to come and not take any team lightly. Keep progressing as a team, keep making adjustments, keep getting better on defence.”
With Allen back in the lineup and Song’s increased rebounding effort the Mystics appear to be coming together at the right time during the season to make a playoff push.
Manchester Met Mystics home games are streamed live on the Manchester Mystics YouTube channel and the Mystics MVP award presented by Brand 161 & Bondi Bowls will follow post game.
Met Mystics Upcoming Schedule:
Saturday April 3rd Caledonia – 3pm Away
Wednesday April 7th – Nottingham – 4pm Away
Saturday April 10th – Essex – 2pm Home
Brand161 are a Basketball apparel and team wear clothing brand from Manchester: Instagram: @brand161mcr / Twitter: @brand161mcr