ESSEX Blades women’s team have won the Basketball England National Cup – at the very first attempt.

The University of Essex team beat favourites Reading Rockets 53-52 in the final, staged at the home of Basketball England in Sheffield.

Essex Blades head coach Mark Lloyd said: “It’s an understatement to say this is a fantastic achievement.

“I’m so proud of everything the players have done.

“This is a major moment for the team as we secure our first national title, at the first time of asking.

“For the players to do this while keeping up the high academic standards demanded by the University of Essex is a sure sign of their talent and dedication to their sport.

“My thanks also go to the coach-load of students from the university who travelled up to Sheffield to watch us play; their encouragement was invaluable.”

Gazette: Trophy time – Jazmine Charles (right) is presented with her most valuable player trophy

Essex Blades recovered from being seven points down at half-time to win in dramatic fashion.

They took the lead with three seconds of the game remaining, before enduring a heart-stopping moment as Rockets’ final attempt to score bounced off the rim and out as the buzzer went.

To cap a fine day, Essex Blades’ Jazmine Charles picked up Most Valued Player for her 20 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

With 3.4 seconds left, Charles crucially found fellow player Monica Kucerkova who made it 53-52.

Not far behind her on the statistics board came team-mate Dimitra Tsavou with 17 rebounds and nine points.

Essex Blades team captain Emma Camp, who has led the team on and off court for last three seasons, signed off in style.

Camp, who is moving to Australia to take up a marine biology post-doctoral position, ended her Blades stint on a winning note.

Camp’s number 14 vest will now be officially retired as a tribute to the contribution she has made to the team and the programme.