MEL MANSFIELD hailed a player-of-the-match display from Lexi Baker which helped Wasps claim their opening win of the season over Saracens Mavericks.
Australian goal attacker Lexi Baker made her first start for the club in the 57-53 victory, ensuring a successful first outing at the Ricoh Arena this season, while providing a response to the opening-day defeat at Manchester Thunder.
Mansfield was enthused by the impact had by the new arrival, and says the club can now kick on after making amends in week two.
“Lexi had an exceptional game at goal attack,” said the Wasps head coach.
“We needed something different in the second half, and Katie Harris as always was so reliable for us.
“This was a really important win for us tonight. I was pleased with how we started after the disappointment of last week, and how we were able to keep up the pressure after half-time.
“It’s only the second game of a long season, but we know we have plenty to improve on.”
Welcomed to the court by the rapturous support, Wasps gave the home faithful even more to shout about by storming into an early three-goal lead through the new-look strike partnership of Rachel Dunn and Baker.
While the Mavericks, led by former Wasp George Fisher, levelled with three unanswered goals, it did little to stunt the hosts’ attacking approach.
With Amy Flanagan, Jade Clarke and Iona Christian freeing up the Wasps forwards by forcing regular turnovers, the home side ended the first quarter with a narrow 14-12 lead.
That advantage was stretched out during a second quarter that was dominated by Baker and Dunn, regularly making trips to the Saracens basket to great success.
Leading 31-25 at half-time, the visitors made a statement of intent early in quarter three by closing the gap to two goals, which Mansfield responded to by replacing Baker with Katie Harris to change the look of Wasps’ attack.
This substitution helped improve the hosts fortunes and take a four-goal lead into the final 15 minutes, an advantage that remained at the final whistle.
Wasps are up to sixth in the Vitality Superleague ahead of a trip to Team Bath – who top the table after wins against Loughborough Lightning and Celtic Dragons – on Friday night (7.30pm).