A dazzling 31-point display from Lorcan Murphy helped league leaders, Templeogue, home to a 90-77 win over UCC Demons on Saturday evening.
Returning to the court after an injury spell, Murphy led the charge in the third quarter, wowing the crowd with some superb dunks and fantastic three-point shooting. Very little separated the sides in the opening half, with Templeogue holding the lead, 42-39 at the break.
Colin O’Reilly led the charge for Demons, with Kyle Hosford and Brandon Watts also chipping in with some big scores to keep the game in the melting pot. A big third quarter from Murphy and Neil Randolph saw the hosts outscore Demons 30-19 in the quarter though, to take a 72-58 point lead into the fourth.
Demons’ came back once more in the fourth, reducing the deficit at one stage to seven points, but Puff Summers stepped up for some big scores and Randolph added some vital threes to see home victory.
"We knew it wasn’t going to be easy," said head coach, Mark Keenan, afterwards. "The third quarter opened things up for us because we weren’t pretty in the first half after a very slow start. We’re delighted to come out with the win – but we have to win every game from here."
Fellow title chasers Garvey’s Tralee Warriors laid down an emphatic statement of intent in the Kingdom on Saturday evening as they saw home a hugely impressive 71-55 point win over Pyrobel Killester. Revenge was certainly sweet for the Kerry side who, having lost the Cup semi-final to Killester back in January, certainly made no mistake this time round, with Paul Dick, Eoin Quigley and Keith Jumper commanding the Complex on the night.
A massive defensive display from the hosts saw them keep the numerous Killester threats relatively quiet and head coach, Pat Price, was thrilled with the result.
"Getting that loss in the Cup semi final, we knew we didn’t do ourselves justice," he said. "Every guy in there contributed something tonight. If you’re committed to making stops, sometimes your offense isn’t pretty, but late in the third quarter, I knew we were well down the road, as it was going to take a massive quarter for them to overcome us."
The battle at the top of the table doesn’t end there though, with UCD Marian keeping their title defense dreams alive thanks to an 84-83 point win over Maree in Belfield on Saturday evening. Despite a massive comeback from Marian in the fourth led by Conor Meany and new signing, Elijah Mays, Maree still led proceedings with 17 seconds to play – but clutch scores from Mays brought Marian across the line in dramatic fashion.
In Cork meanwhile, C and S Neptune did well to stay with Belfast Star all the way to the final quarter, eventually losing out 72-92 to the second-placed side - a scoreline that doesn’t fully reflect the efforts of the hosts.
Owen Connolly was outstanding for the home side, but any team that can score 13 threes in an away gym is always going to be tough to beat and with Star’s Mike Davis dropping 29 points on the night, coupled with a solid shooting display from Conor Quinn, the visitors ran out with the win.
Elsewhere, Moycullen were on the wrong side of a 77-85 point result on Saturday evening, losing out to an in-form DCU Saints. Trailing by 14 points at the end of the first half, Moycullen were up against it, and while they brought the score back level thanks to Paul Kelly and Dylan Cunningham, DCU pulled away once again off the back of a 23-point performance from Mike Bonaparte.
Over in the Women’s Super League and the top of the table clash between Courtyard Liffey Celtics and DCU Mercy lived up to all expectations in Dublin on Sunday afternoon, with the Cup champions just edging it in the end, 58-63.
This game was there for the taking for DCU though, with a superb defensive display from both sides seeing a low-scoring first half finish 26-31 in favour of Liffey.
A superb display from DCU’s Adaysha Williams and Rachel Huijsdens was the talking point of the second half, as each time Liffey managed to get some breathing space on the scoreboard through Allie LeClaire and Aine O’Connor, DCU were right back with a response and, with just over 30 seconds to play, the game was on a knife edge, 58-61 in favour of Liffey Celtics. Free throws from Allie LeClaire edged the league leaders in front, and they held on to win out 58-63 in the end.
"That was a great game," said Celtics’ coach, Mark Byrne. "We always know it’s going to be tough over here. I never felt we were in control in the seocnd half, we had our noses in front which was great, but then they started hitting some key shots down the stretch and you never felt it was over until the final buzzer. They played really tough defence and it was hard to get anything through, so I’m really delighted to get the win."
Fr Mathews were on the better side of the Women’s Super League Cork derby this time round, defeating Singleton SuperValu Brunell 74-60 in a thriller at home on Saturday evening. Grainne Dwyer and Shannon Brady were the standouts in the contest, combining for 46 points between them, doing the majority of their damage from inside the paint.
The game was back and forth for the most part, several lead changes making for very entertaining viewing. It was the dominance of the inside players however that allowed Mathews to pull away down the stretch.
Elsewhere in the Women’s Super League Ambassador UCC Glanmire ran out comfortable 81-55 victors at home to IT Carlow Basketball. The Cork side were 26-11 up at the end of the first and a further 17 points ahead at the interval, some incredible shooting from Annaliese Murphy becoming commonplace in Glanmire’s performances as of late.
The young guard finished with 20 and is certainly a talent that has Glanmire feeling positive about the future.
Maxol WIT Wildcats dished up a clinical performance against Marble City Hawks on Saturday evening to run out 43-73 point winners on the road. Superb performances from Jasmine Walker, Stephanie O’Shea and Alyssa Velles saw the visitors into a solid 26-43 point lead at half time, and they didn’t look back from there.
NUIG Mystics came agonisingly close once more to achieving their first victory of the season, losing out by just one possession - 78-80 - to Pyrobel Killester. Kayla Morrissey put in a fantastic 26-point performance for the Galway side as they attempted to keep Killester at bay, but the Dubliners fought back in the fourth quarter to survive the scare and take the victory.
Basketball Ireland Results: 16-17 February
Basketball Ireland Men’s Super League:
CandS Neptune 72-92 Belfast Star
UCD Marian 84-83 Maree
Moycullen 77-85 DCU Saints
Garvey's Tralee Warriors 71-55 Pyrobel Killester
Templeogue 90-77 UCC Demons
Basketball Ireland Women’s Super League:
NUIG Mystics 78-80 Pyrobel Killester
Fr Mathews 74-60 Singleton SuperValu Brunell
Ambassador UCC Glanmire 81-55 IT Carlow Basketball
Marble City Hawks 43-73 Maxol WIT Wildcats
DCU Mercy 58-63 Courtyard Liffey Celtics
Basketball Ireland Men’s Division One:
Tradehouse Central Ballincollig 117-61 LYIT Donegal
UL Sports Eagles 74-67 Ulster University Elks
LIT 77-94 EJ Sligo All-Stars
Limerick Celtics 86-74 GameFootage.net Titans
Waterford Vikings 66-86 DBS Eanna
Scotts Lakers St Pauls Killarney 73-96 Abbey Seals Dublin Lions
Fr Mathews 56-70 KUBS BC
IT Carlow Basketball 94-68 Fr MathewsLIT 95-98 Ulster University ElksPortlaoise Panthers 85-90 Bad Bobs Tolka Rovers
Basketball Ireland Women’s Division One:
Limerick Celtics 54-69 Fabplus North West
Team Tom McCarthy’s St Mary’s 77-52 Swords Thunder
Maree 64-56 Trinity Meteors
Portlaoise Panthers 70-78 Ulster University Elks
UL Huskies 65-64 Fabplus North West