It was old school, it was gritty, and it was a street fight. WIT Wildcats and DCU Mercy brought a fight to Neptune Stadium early on a Saturday afternoon. Emmet Ryan watched Mercy ensure they’d be going back to Dublin with a cup final to look forward to
The first quarter felt like being sucked through a time warp, not just before the pandemic but before the invention of the three point line. DCU flat out ignored the arc as their game was entirely built around getting the ball in the paint while WIT only paid cursory attention to it. It made for a cramped and tight game of basketball. While the Dublin side is flat out built for an inside first game, it was still a surprise to neither side make use of the perimeter to keep the opposing D honest.
Despite DCU having a battering ram in Hannah Thornton on the inside, Wildcats appeared to be making much lighter work of scoring in a tight game. Mercy had to bruise their way through the paint for shots while Jazmine Walker and Stephanie O’Shea were able to capitalise on slivers of space created at the other end to keep the board ticking over for Wildcats. Thornton drew a hard offensive foul from her opposite number, Rachel Thompson, in what was proving to be the most physical duel of the afternoon’s action. The nature of the game meant the 29-34 lead held by Wildcats at the end of the period felt larger than it was. With the teams a combined 0 for 9 from beyond the arc, it seemed like any scoring from the outside could bust this game open.
Alarie Mayze finally ended the drought from deep as her three pointer early in the third quarter, the game’s first, brought the sides level again. A delightful turnaround J from Bailey Greenberg briefly gave Mercy their first lead of a game that was truly opening up as O’Shea established herself as a force a both ends for Wildcats.
Greenberg hit the 20 point mark for the game early in the final frame with a three to push DCU into a 55-48, the biggest gap between the sides up to that point, as the last side to win the Irish league title (right before the pandemic shut down sport) sought to make it back to the cup final.
As Megan Connolly stretched to lead to 9 points midway through the frame, WIT coach Tommy O’Mahony had to break from his Pablo Laso style stoic pose to call in the troops. It was to no avail, the run for home was on as Mercy looked to kill this one off but some defensive flubs down the stretch almost turned the tide. Rachel Walker made light work of turning over a woeful inbounds pass and turned it into a three soon after to cut it down to just a one possession game late. WIT got one more shot to try and tie it up but Walker airballed and DCU held on to win 68-65.