The Wits basketball ladies’ first team lost to the University of Pretoria (Tuks) in Hall 29, on Sunday April 15, in a Gauteng qualifier for a place in a national tournament.

If they are to participate in the University Sport South Africa (USSA) tournament, they will have to win both their upcoming qualifiers. The ladies’ first team is one of four Wits basketball teams attempting to take part in the national tournament, which starts on July 2 in Port Elizabeth.

The women started off well in the first quarter with some good offensive play. They took their opportunities to charge into the free throw lane which often resulted in successful lay-ups.

Although both teams were closely matched, Wits led at the end of the first quarter with 13 points to 10. Similar patterns of play were seen in the second and third quarters, in which Wits’ attacks on the Tuks defence gave them an advantage.

Witsie shooting guards, Fortunate Bosega and Modiegi Mokoka, played key roles in the game. Both made several attempts, most successful, at shooting three pointers and lay-ups. As a result, Tuks tightened their defence during the second and third quarter.

Tuks increased their pace, making it difficult for Wits to score easily toward the end of the third quarter. They also executed some fast breaks, which put Wits under pressure to improve their defence.

The fourth quarter saw Tuks take the lead by 53 points to 50. From then, the gap broadened rapidly and the final score was a 70-56 victory for Tuks.

Wits captain Xoli Mahlangu said her team was doing well until they relaxed. “We need to add defence to stop fast breaks from Tuks and help each other in offense.”

Wits “lost it” when Tuks played man-to-man defence and weren’t screening for team mates, she added.

Tuks key player Natalie Pike said the game was very competitive and that Wits was always a tough team to play against.

“We had a good game, but we had to work hard for it,” Pike said. However, she admitted that Tuks needed to “get fit”, which would improve their performance.

Wits coach Terry Nxumalo, said the Wits ladies played well in the first 30 minutes as they led for most of the game, but “lost their composure” towards the end where they made several turnovers.