Loughborough Lightning 59-63 Surrey Storm: Hosts stunned in Vitality Superleague
By Paul Prenderville
Last Updated: 10/04/19 3:41pm
Surrey Storm claimed a fifth victory of the season, withstanding a third-quarter fightback from Loughborough to end the hosts' seven-match winning streak with a 63-59 victory.
The visitors, who had won just one of their previous six games to drop out of top-four contention, started fast and were indebted to a brilliant display from South African shooter Sigi Burger who led them to a four-goal victory.
Lightning had powered into contention for a top-four finish on the back of a spectacular winning run but, aside from a rallying third quarter that drew them to within three of the visitors, they were unable to find the consistency to produce another fightback.
It means Loughborough remain fourth in the Superleague table, but crucially missed the chance to move six points clear of fifth-placed Saracens Mavericks who also suffered a shock Round 13 defeat to London Pulse on Saturday.
Round 13 - Results & Fixtures
|Saturday||London Pulse||62-59||Saracens Mavericks|
|Manchester Thunder||73-46||Celtic Dragons|
|Severn Stars||49-40||Strathclyde Sirens|
|Monday||Loughborough Lightning||59-63||Surrey Storm|
Burger made a major impact from the start with her first 10 shots finding the target to open up an early lead for Mikki Austin's charges.
With Mary Cholhok and Ella Clark uncharacteristically off the mark, the hosts struggled to stay within touching distance and it was fitting that Burger grabbed the final goal of the opening quarter for a 20-13 lead.
Burger, who went on to make 57 of her 62 shots to pick up the player-of-the-match honours, continued where she left off in the second quarter, extending her perfect start to 20 goals as Storm took a nine-goal lead.
Jess Shaw and Vicky Oyesola were impressing in the mid-court as Lightning strained for turnover ball, but, with the hosts trying to force the issue in attack, the ice-cool finishing of Burger ensured Storm kept a double-figure advantage.
Clark's trademark long bomb meant the visitors' lead was 10 at the break and it looked like it might be the catalyst for a comeback that has become the Lightning hallmark during their winning run.
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A fast start to the second half saw Lightning draw within eight, Nat Panagarry's switch to centre having the desired effect as the hosts gained control.
Cholhok and Clark began to find the net with regularity and it was not long before the difference was down to five goals.
England Roses international Oyesola was key to the comeback, forcing mistakes and winning key turnover ball, and when Cholhok found the target midway through the half the gap was down to just three.
Austin responded by bringing herself on in the Storm mid-court and her experience proved vital in closing out the quarter and maintaining the three-goal gap heading into the final quarter, as was Shadine van der Merwe's key defensive stop in the final seconds.
Storm's constant high ball into Burger was reaping rewards and with the South Africa international making no mistakes under the post and the defence keeping the hosts and the crowd quiet, Storm moved seven clear midway through the final 15 minutes.
There was time for one final rally as Cholhok brought the home side within three, but that was as good as it got as Storm closed out the contest in clinical fashion to seal a victory that could prove vital to Lightning's rivals in the top-four chase.
Loughborough Lightning - It's a quick turnaround for Lightning who travel to third-placed Bath on Friday night looking to gain revenge for a 75-50 hammering at the Sir David Wallace Sports Hall in Round Five
Surrey Storm - Storm return to Surrey Sports Park on Saturday when they host bottom-of-the-table London Pulse who are buoyed by just a second victory of the season after stunning Mavericks at the weekend.
The Vitality Superleague continues on Sky Sports with four live games across a busy Easter weekend - from 1.45pm on Saturday April 21 we have Sirens vs Lightning and Pulse vs Thunder and then from 3.45pm on Sunday April 22 we have Storm vs Stars and Bath vs Mavericks.