C & S UCC Demons 88- 76 DCU Saints
On Sunday, October 20, the C & S UCC Demons squared off with the DCU Saints, hoping to maintain their undefeated run, and place themselves in a tie at the top of the table.
Despite entering the match with two wins from two games, UCC began the match as the worst of the two sides. A series of sloppy play, consisting of poor shot selection and a high rate of turnovers, saw the Dublin side take a 7-2 lead early on, on the back of an excellent three-pointer from James Donnelly.
Just four minutes into the match the lead was extended to 13-4 and it looked as if any hopes of an undefeated season were quickly being destroyed. Having scored the game winner against UL just a few weeks ago, UCC’s American star Lehmon Colbert, along with player-coach Colin O’Reilly, missed several easy baskets which could have reduced the DCU lead.
Perhaps aggrieved by his own poor play, O’Reilly introduced three substitutions in one go mid-way through the first quarter, a decision which quickly began to pay dividends.
A three pointer from sub Shane Coughlan began a UCC fight-back, before O’Reilly and Adrian O’Sullivan also got in on the three point game to put UCC in the lead, on a score-line of 19-16.
With DCU struggling to maintain its early pace on offence, UCC continued to push to extend the lead. Whilst Colbert was struggling to find his rhythm, amassing just four points in the opening quarter, a three point effort by Kyle Hosford on the buzzer saw UCC leading 23-19 at the end of the first quarter.
DCU would start the second quarter as the better team, with a Mark Trimmer two-pointer leaving just two points between the sides. However, Trimmer’s score only seemed to spur on the UCC side, in particular Ciaran O’Sullivan who took control of the match, scoring the next nine points.
Whilst the Dublin side were able to bring an end to O’Sullivan’s explosive streak, a great solo move by DCU’s Phillip Lynch cutting into the Demon’s lead, the Saints were struggling to cope with the high pressure defensive style of the Demons. Meanwhile, as the UCC defence dominated, DCU’s began to crumble, as Lehmon Colbert began to find his groove, extending the Demon’s lead to 15 points, on a score-line of 40-25.
However, the unusual decision of player/coach O’Reilly to introduce a total of three point-guards saw the Cork team lose its grip on the match. As UCC struggled to maintain any sense of balance, DCU’s Lynch and Darling repeatedly tore through the defence, quickly reducing the lead to nice points.
With the first half coming to a close, the home side outscored the Saints by 9 points to two in the final minutes, entering the half 53-39 ahead. Despite the impressive offensive display, the fact that a DCU offence, which struggled for much of the second quarter, was able to score 39 points in the first half left O’Reilly with many questions to ponder during the break.
UCC began the second half as the better side, outscoring their Dublin opponents by 8-0. However, just as the Demons appeared to be racing away with the match, the inconsistencies which had plagued the side in the first half began to reappear.
Fouling problems left UCC to play without Hosford and Christian Anon, and DCU took full advantage, retaliating with eight unanswered points of its own.
With UCC seemingly asleep, DCU reduced the lead to just nine points, before the re-introduction of Adrian O’Sullivan and Colbert brought the Cork side back to life. Despite their lengthy struggles, the Cork side entered the final quarter with a twelve point lead.
Following the frantic pace of the match early on, exhaustion seemed to grip both sides late on. However, as he had done during the third quarter, Colbert continued to breathe life into the UCC team, scoring several late baskets following a series of solo moves.
Whilst the Cork team failed to dominate, as they would have been expected to, they managed to close out the match, winning on a score of 88-76. However, despite sealing the win, UCC will have much work to do if they want to continue their undefeated season.
C & S UCC Demons: Shane Coughlan, Christian Anon, Kyle Hosford, Brian O’Neill, Ciaran O’Sullivan, Daniel O’Sullivan, Mark O’Leary, Niall O’Reilly, Adrian O’Sullivan, Lehmon Colbert, Colin O’Reilly.
DCU Saints: James Harding, Philip Neary, Eoin Darling, Sam Kiernan, James Donnelly, Peter Lynch, Arkadijs Makarenko, Eoin Quill, Mike Trimmer, Conor Gilligan.