In a night where those on the outside of the title race were under pressure, UCD Marian’s Mike Garrow got hot when it mattered as the Students had a storming comeback to see off Belfast Star. Emmet Ryan gives his thoughts and rounds up the rest of the Irish Super League action
From the off it was clear this wasn’t going to be like the cup semi final clash between these sides a month earlier. Mike Davis, who was off the floor for much of that game with foul trouble, went off early and kept going. He made 3 threes in the first quarter and kept scoring in a fantastic individual display.
CJ Fulton, who didn’t get a shot off in that outing until the middle of the third quarter, was comfortable running the point early, got his buckets, and made UCD’s Scott Kinevane harry and chase to no avail repeatedly. Fulton went deep in the first but it was a move at the start of the fourth that looked to be the exclamation point on a night that looked to belong to Star for so long. Fulton went one on one with Kinevane at the top of the key, took his time, dribbled into the paint, all the while Kinevane staying on him, before eventually stepping back for an easy short-range jumper on a 17 point night for the 16 year old.
Star had to chase throughout that dark day in Cork, in this one they ran the show for 35 minutes. UCD would regularly peg them back into manageable territory, but when the northern club took a 12 point lead in the third they looked in complete control. Mike Thiep was clogging the lane when he was on and creating oodles of space for all around him.
Star just couldn’t close the deal.
When Davis took charge from the outside in the first half, Mario Markovicz was doing plenty on the interior for UCD to keep the home side in touch and finished with 22 points. For all the success of Fulton outside, Conor Meany more than matched him with a 22 point outing of his own. A questionable, to put it mildly, intentional foul call went the home side’s way when the game was in the balance at 90-90 but Star should have never been in this position to begin with.
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It was Mike Garrow however who closed the deal. Having sat the front end of the fourth quarter while Cameron Smith ran around getting work done, he came in midway through and everything changed. Garrow just plain took over the scoring load as the UCD defence locked down Belfast hard. He’d finish with 28 points on the night but it was his ability to be a nuisance, drawing fouls when it mattered, getting inside in traffic, and generally delivering a bunch of buckets, that would see UCD outlast their visitors 100-96.
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It was a crucial win for the home side as defeat would have seen them drop three games behind leaders Templeogue, effectively out of the title race and relegated to the role of spoiler. Instead they join Killester and Belfast behind Tralee Warriors in a packed race. Next week, it’s the Oblate against Templeogue. They’ll come out either three games back and done or just a game behind and right in it.
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*DCU Saints, who were level with UCD Marian on 5 losses going into this one were all but eliminated from title contention as they fell hard 89-55 in Tralee as the Warriors stayed just a game out of the top.
*Templeogue got a big fright in Kerry but eventually edged Killorglin 88-87, the losing side missed out on a chance for some help in their fight against relegation.
*Cup winners Killester showed no sign of a hangover as they went south to face Neptune and left Cork with a 77-88 win.
*In a clash with major importance to the bottom half of the table, Maree took down GCD Swords Thunder 74-64. Niels Bunschoten was top scorer for the Galway club with 28.
*Sunday sees bottom club Moycullen travel to UCC Demons in bad need of a win to stay in touch with the other relegation battlers.
*Over in the women’s Super League, Liffey Celtics clearly did have a cup hangover but they managed to pull it out to remain unbeaten across all competitions this season. Down 52-37 to Killester entering the final frame, Celtics had an 18-0 run on the way to a 63-58 victory. They are now 13-0 across all competitions.
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