DCU Saints brought UCD Marian back down to earth after an 83-76 win on Saturday kept hopes alive of finishing second in the Northern Conference.
Marian ended their wait for a first National Cup title in their last outing but the Saints proved party poopers with six points to spare over Fran Ryan’s charges.
Saints grabbed the initiative with two minutes remaining on the clock, with nine points from Kevin Lacey in the final quarter swinging the contest in their favour.
‘It was a very valuable win,’ said Saints Head Coach Vinny O’Keeffe.
‘It’s a bit of a dog-fight between ourselves, UCD and Belfast Star for the Play-Off spots and we have earmarked second spot so hopefully this will go a long way in achieving that goal.
‘Their zone defence was very effective against us in the cup match but I felt we did a better job on that this time around.
‘Our defensive intensity has been the key in recent weeks and we are on a good run at the moment. We knew they were going to be buzzing coming into this after their cup success but we managed to contain that.’
UCC Demons Head Coach, Paul Kelleher, paid tribute to Shane Duggan after his side secured a crucial 98-88 win over Belfast Star.
Demons managed to restrict Star’s high scoring American Clayton Longmire to just 17 points, which was helped greatly by the display of Duggan.
‘I thought Shane Duggan did a magnificent job on Longmire,’ said Kelleher.
‘Duggan put in a great shift on a player who has been devastating since coming to the league. It’s a big win and a good confidence builder ahead of the derby next weekend.
‘We are disappointed to give up 88 points but it’s something we need to work on and we need to be more disciplined, as we were before the Christmas period,’ added Kelleher.
UL Eagles are proving unstoppable at the top of the Southern Conference, recording their sixth straight league win after a 100-75 win at home to Bord Gais Neptune.
Cameron Mitchell, who is averaging just over 24 points per game this season, produced another impressive scoring display with a personal tally of 31 points.
‘We are building up some real momentum at the right time,’ said Eagles captain Neil Campbell.
‘We were disappointed with our National cup performance against Killester and we are solely focused on making up for that loss by firstly winning the conference.
'We are not usually a high scoring team but the way the defence is playing it is allowing our offensive side of the game to flourish,’ he added.
Ulster Elks got their third win of the season courtesy of an 83-79 win at home to Moycullen.
Moycullen surged ahead in the second half with Mason Ambler and Dylan Cunningham leading the way on both ends of the court but Elks’ Ciaran MacEvilly and Kevin Foley kept in close pursuit.
The fourth quarter turned the momentum in Elks’ favour as Kevin Foley dominated under the basket by leading the scoring assault with 33 points after Moycullen’s Mason Ambler fouled out of the game with a personal tally of 23.
‘The game was swinging back and forth but we really dominated in the end and it feels great to get the much needed victory,’ said Elks’ top scorer Kevin Foley.
‘As a team, we have stopped looking at the tables and play offs and instead focused on the game at hand. Last year we focused on the tables and missed some great opportunities that cost us a play-off position.’
In the IrishSport.TV Women’s SuperLeague, DCU Mercy recorded their second win over Team Montenotte Hotel Cork in the space of a week following their 65-47 success at the DCU Sports Centre.
Mercy retained their National Cup title by beating their old foes last Sunday and followed it up with another clinical display this time.
The Dubliners started slowly, trailing 19-9 in the first quarter, but began to settle in the second. They won that quarter 19-9 to leave the sides level at half time.
Mark Ingle’s side turned the screw in the third, building up an 11 point advantage and it was a lead they were never going to relinquish.
‘Obviously Marie (Breen) was out injured for them and in the first half I thought Claire Rockall was unbelievable for Montenotte,’ said Mercy Head Coach Mark Ingle.
‘We didn’t start with the right intensity but gradually got more and more into the game.
‘I thought Sarah Woods, Christina Newton, Emma Dyer and Sarah McGrath really contributed and showed their presence particularly with Lindsey Peat sitting out most of the second half.’
UL displayed their title credentials with a comprehensive 69-35 win away to Meteors.
‘I couldn't have asked for a better response from the players,’ said UL Head Coach James Weldon. ‘The defence was good again, which is really pleasing. We didn't have our best shooting day but once you are tough defensively, then you will be ok.
‘It was great to see Rachel (Vanderwal) playing so well and she is starting to show real form after being out for so long.’
On Saturday, Black Forge Oblate Dynamos took a huge step towards securing a play-off spot after emerging from their trip to Waterford Wildcats with a 54-39 success.
The Oblates have produced notable performances against UL and Team Montenotte in recent weeks and this win sets them up nicely for their all capital clash with 11890 Killester next weekend.