Team Montenotte Hotel Cork are through to the Women’s National Cup final after their nail-biting affair with DCU Mercy ended 53-62. Team Montenotte will meet UL Huskies in the final.
Both DCU Mercy and Team Montenotte Hotel Cork have enjoyed much success at National Cup competitions but, at the other team’s expense. This year the old rivalry was turned up another notch as their thirst for silverware grows stronger.
The game started with Team Montenotte coming out of the blocks strong and tough with Niamh Dwyer setting the tempo high and intense as she penetrated the key to creating scoring opportunities.
Help from team mate and American, Emilee Harmon, ensured that they gained a significant lead over the Dublin side early on as only two players, namely Sarah Woods and Susan Maguire of DCU converted their attempts thus giving the Cork ladies an 11-point advantage at the end of the first quarter.
As the game progressed, Mercy began to find their form as Maguire stepped up her game to keep her side in touching distance of their Cork rivals. Off the back of her effort, DCU looked more alert and their American, Megan Hoffman, began to make the shots that her team needed.
As the gap began to shrink between the two sides, Montenotte’s defensive pressure open up their offensive breaks as Claire Rockall picked steals to push the ball up the court for an easy bucket made by Harmon. DCU feed off the Cork pressure and continued to attack the basket to finish the half two points down.
It was in the third quarter that Team Montenotte’s Amanda O’Regan began to hit some much needed shots for her team with Harmon following her lead. However, it was also in this quarter that the Dublin side showed the packed out stadium just how good they really are.
DCU favourite, Lindsay Peat, initiated this break as she picked the pockets of the Cork guards at the top of the key and ran the ball for easy but vital baskets.
Feeding of her energy both Woods and Hoffman stepped their game up with an effective two-man game that saw Hoffman convert an ‘and-1’ play to take their first lead of the game.
Following this, Peat once again forced a turnover for the Cork side giving her the space and time to make her lay-up on the run and put her team up four points going into the fourth quarter.
As the final quarter opened, both teams struggled to score as the defensive grew stronger on both ends of the floor.
However, when the baskets began to drop it was score for score with DCU maintaining their lead until Team Montenotte’s Rockall began to hustle under the boards. She fought hard for rebounds and was rewarded with an easy put back to turn the lead to Cork once more.
As the tension grew both Niamh and Grainne Dwyer continued to maximise their opportunities as DCU’s fouling sent them to the free throw line on numerous occasions.
Last minute attempts by DCU were not enough and Team Montenotte continued to hit free throws to finish the game nine points up and book their place in the Women’s National Cup Final against UL Huskies.
The Women’s National Cup final will take place on January 24 in the National Basketball Arena.
DCU Mercy 53 (24) (M Hoffman 17, S Woods 15, L Peat 9, S Maguire 9)
Team Montenotte Hotel Cork 62 (26) (E Harmon 25, N Dwyer 13, G Dwyer 6)