Wolves' first WBBL game of the season ended in disappointment as they lost an overtime thriller 91-87 against Newcastle Eagles.
Lee Ryan's side led for most of the game before foul trouble caught up with them, with five players fouling out and the hosts being called for 37 infringements in comparison to Eagles' 17.
Greeta Uprus led Wolves with 23 points in just 21 minutes before fouling out while Amari Carter also suffered from foul trouble but finished with 14 points in 18 minutes. Lizzy Harrison added 11 points and missed a double-double by a single rebound before joining her team-mates on the bench.
Maddie McVicar led Eagles with 31 points and eight boards, Alison Gorrell had a 21 point, 11 rebound double-double and Abigail Lowe added 20 points and nine boards as all three players played the full 45 minutes.
Coach Ryan was clearly frustrated after the loss: "It was easy to tell it was the first competitive game in nearly a year for us" he said. "Credit Newcastle, they came short handed and played without fear and just enjoyed the contest. None of us were happy with the performance, the game came down to concentration and we lacked it all from start to finish. "But we’ve got that hurdle out the way and I’m sure the players will settle into the season now and start to show the work they’ve been putting in for the last four months."
In their first competitive game since March 2020 and without even a friendly for three months, Uprus opened Wolves' scoring with a jump shot followed by a trey, and a good start saw Carter's triple give the hosts a 16-11 lead midway through the quarter and Beth Sarson also drained from the Land of Plenty before Eagles finished strongly to make it a one point game going into the first break.
Uprus increased that lead to 25-22 with the first score of the second period, and Wolves led throughout the quarter with another Carter triple making it an eight point game with four minutes of the half remaining and Harrison's trey helped Wolves take a 40-33 lead into the locker room at half-time.
Wolves led throughout the third period without ever pulling away as the sides split 44 points. An Uprus triple followed by Kata Fulop's jump shot made it a ten point game after a minute of action but Wolves went three minutes without a point before Sarson made it 47-39.
McVicar hit five straight points before a Gorrell free-throw made it a two point game midway through the quarter. Back-to-back Dorka Boros scores took Wolves' lead back out to six before Harrison again scored from downtown to put Wolves 54-45 up with four minutes on the clock., and another Uprus triple helped Wolves lead 62-55 going into the fourth period.
Lauren Milligan made it a nine point game to open the quarter and Uprus' three kept the hosts ahead by eight after four minutes before Rouse made it a ten-point game. But the visitors chipped away at the lead and Smith's triple made it a one point game before Uprus hit a pair at the foul line to leave Wolves 77-74 up going into the final two minutes.
Uprus fouled out, leaving McVicar to bring her side within a point before Gorrell gave her side their first lead of the game since the first period with a pair of foul shots. The foul count continued to go up as Harrison sent McVicar to the line again where she put her side up by three heading into the final 40 seconds.
It was a Harrison trey that sent the game into overtime as she converted an assist from 15-yeear-old Grace Strickland.
The first play of the extra period saw Harrison foul out, but Milligan tied the game at 84 with two minutes gone but five straight points from the visitors forced a time-out from Ryan with two minutes remaining.
Rouse split a pair at the foul line before Daisy Porter cut the deficit to two with a lay-up but that was as close as Wolves came as Newcastle - inevitably - wrapped up the win at the foul line.