SEVERN Stars head coach Sam Bird praised her side’s ‘outstanding’ performance as they fell to an agonising 54-53 reverse to high-flying Loughborough Lightning.
A goal in the dying seconds of the game denied the Stars who were level with their Midlands rivals with two minutes to go at the University of Worcester Arena after an exciting fourth quarter comeback.
Lightning intercepted the ball with just 20 seconds left to go in the game, allowing them to transition quick up-court and score the winning goal.
“That’s the best performance we have produced this season,” said Bird.
“I’m really proud of the players and they will be kicking themselves they had the ball in hand with 20 seconds to go.
“But the level of performance tonight against a very strong Loughborough side was outstanding. The crowd were amazing; they were loud and we could feel their energy.”
Cook and fellow Stars defenders, Jodi-Ann Ward and Becky Oatley impressed allowing Stars to edge ahead 11-8 but the home side ended the first quarter behind, 16-14.
Lightning scored four consecutive goals without reply at the start of the second quarter, but an interchange between Darroch and shooter Maryka Holtzhausen allowed Stars to add another to their tally.
Cook produced another fantastic defensive stop at the other end and Stars capitalised, scoring two quickfire goals, bringing the score to 22-20 before Lightning extended their lead to 32-27 at the break thanks to the prolific Jess Shaw.
Stars rang the changes as Darroch and Harris swapped positions but Lightning continued to pressure and extended their lead to double digits before Stars rallied to end the quarter 47-39 behind.
The arena faithful came to life as Cook tipped Cholhok’s shot, allowing Stars to quickly transition down-court and reduce the deficit to three.
Ward then produced a critical interception preventing Lightning from taking the game away from Stars and Holtzhausen scored two quickfire goals to level the game at 52-52.
Rowe showed great composure as she put her team ahead by one goal with a minute left before closing the game out on the buzzer to deny Stars at the death.
“The players have improved game on game since that heavy loss to Saracen Mavericks. They’ve turned a corner and played well in every match since,” said Bird.
Stars’ next home game is against Strathclyde Sirens at University of Gloucester Arena on Saturday, April 6.