UL Huskies booked their place in the Women’s National Cup after an impressive 80-59 victory over Killester. There they play Team Montenotte Hotel Cork who saw off DCU Mercy by 62-53.
The Huskies v Killester game opened with intensity and aggression as both sides stepped up to the mark to challenge a place in the prestigious final.
Prior to this meeting UL Huskies had suffered a defeat at the hands of Killester during the Premier League season.
That game appeared to motivate both sides as Killester had the confidence that they could repeat that performance and UL Huskies were determined to not miss a chance at making it three in a row as National Cup Champions.
UL Huskies’ Rachael Vanderwal seemed shaky at the opening of the game, committing three unusual turnovers, that gave Killester’s Mimi Clarke the green light to attack the basket.
However, when the nerves settled Vanderwal proved why she is one of the most talked about players in the women’s league as she shot the ball well and opened up opportunities for Aoife McDermott inside and Rachel Clancy on the perimeter.
As the game progressed it became a real battle of the inside game with Killester’s Candice Bond and Huskies’ McDermott working each other on both ends of the floor. In particular Bond’s offensive success gave her the energy to pick her team’s defensive efforts up as they made it difficult for Huskies to convert their opportunities late into the second quarter.
Nonetheless, Huskies’ Clancy answered their scoring prayers by nailing threes and outside shots to finish up with 15 points at half time as her side maintained a six-point lead going into the second half.
Coming back into the game Killester struggled to find the bottom of the net until Ali Maguire hit a baseline shot and team mate Aisling Sullivan followed suit a few seconds later from the same spot.
Just when it looked as though the game was about to get even closer, Killester’s top scorer Bond found herself in foul trouble late in the third that saw her sit out. It was when this substitution was made that Killester began to fade further away from UL on the scoreboard due to poor decision making.
Although Killester’s Maguire continued to score and two free throws from their Spanish star Laura Pardo saw them close the gap to eight points, it still appeared as though Huskies were in control.
In particular Vanderwal and McDermott as they netted a cool 17 points between them in the third quarter alone to keep their side’s cup dreams alive.
Vanderwal opened the final quarter strong, going coast to coast and leading her side to the beginning of a substantial break. This energy passed through the Huskies’ squad as a full court pass from Galvin to McDermott saw them take their most significant lead of the game of 17 points in the final five minutes.
As the clock began to wind down Huskies’ Galvin and Fahy ensured their team mates kept the defensive intensity high to increase their lead. This shook Killester and when their guard Sullivan was forced to leave the game injured in the closing minutes UL ran out winners by 80-59.
The Women’s National Cup final will take place on January 24 in the National Basketball Arena.
UL Huskies 80 (39) (R Vanderwal 26, A McDermot 26, R Clancy 22)
Killester 59 (33) (C Bond 23, M Clarke 11, A O'Sullivan 10)