UL Huskies have defeated Team Montnotte Hotel Cork 69-59 to retain the Women’s SuperLeague Cup at the National Basketball Arena, Tallaght.
Huskies certainly started the game like a team that had been there before.
With Rachel Vanderwal pushing the fast break and her running mates of Rachel Clancy and Louise Galvin beside her, the women from Limerick exploded out of the blocks and quickly established an 8-2 lead.
As the game settled, and with it Team Montenotte, Huskies held their early advantage but couldn’t expand it. The champions’ greater size was starting to become evident however, with Aoife McDermott the primary beneficiary as she established good positions time and time again close to the basket.
Despite this, Montenotte were never out of reach and the conservative zone defence played by Huskies allowed the challengers to swing the ball and find open shots - Tomica Bacic connected on two of her first three attempts from long range.
With the game finding its rhythm, the early spurt by Huskies was all that separated the teams with UL pounding the ball inside, while Montenotte seemed more willing to shoot from deep.
Constantly edging back into the contest, Montenotte’s Niamh Dwyer hit a monster three on the buzzer of half time that left the ladies from Cork trailing by just two (33-31) and firmly in possession of momentum.
The champions composed themselves well at halftime however and came out to start the third quarter as they had the first. Michelle Fahy was without doubt the standout player in this period.
While she shooting two from two from the field, she also created with some sublime passing out of the high post, pushing her team into a seven-point lead going into the final period.
That gap pretty much remained despite some back and forth between the sides. An alley-oop, converted by Marie Breen, did bring Montenotte back to four with two minutes to go as the Montenotte faithful roared on their encouragement.
A fastbreak layup from McDermott soon after proved the nail in the coffin though, and Huskies would eventually see out the game on a 69-59 scoreline.
UL Huskies: 69 (33) (R vanderwal 26, M Fahy 14, R Clancy 13
Team Montnotte Hotel Cork: 59 (31) (G Dwyer 20, T Bacic 15, M Breen 10)