UCD Marian – 75
UL Eagles – 93

UCD Marian suffered their second defeat of the season against the University of Limerick (UL) Eagles in the UCD Sports Centre on Sunday. Marian, who have won just one of their opening three games, now sit in sixth place in the table, with a game against the undefeated C&S UCC Demons in hand over fifth-placed Bord Gais Neptune, although UCD are five points behind.

Sunday’s game started out as it was to continue for the rest of the afternoon. UCD Marian took the tip off, only to have to hand the ball over to the visitors almost immediately because of an offensive foul. Marian’s discipline would prove to be an issue throughout the game, much like it was during their season opener against Killester.

That being said, it was the hosts who were first off the mark on Sunday. Terrance King, UCD’s star player in the game, slotted home the first of his 24 points with around 30 seconds on the clock after finding some space for himself behind the UL defense.

The Limerick side was rebounding well to start the game, but they struggled to find any points in the opening minute of the game. Neil Campbell finally registered the Eagles’ first points, and was fouled in the process, although he could not make the free throw and the so the score remained 2-2.

This seemed to wake the visitors up, as they opened up a six point lead, largely thanks to their high-tempo offense and their uncanny ability to take the rebounds from missed shots. UCD, on the other hand, were guilty of taking too many long shots and called a time out to try and halt UL’s momentum.

Although the timeout did slow UL down somewhat, it also affected the home side’s rhythm, as both teams trade missed opportunities, until Scott Kinevane drove through the Marian defence to register a sweet basket and make the score 2-10 to the away team.

UL’s gameplan of utilising as much misdirection as possible was proving difficult to handle, although King was doing his utmost to keep UCD in the game. With half of the opening quarter over, King was the scorer of all seven of Marian’s points, with the stand-out moment being a three-point play after he was fouled in the act of scoring.

King’s opposite number, Delwan Graham, was quick to counter. Graham showed off some silky footwork before extending the Eagles’ lead to 7-16. The teams exchanged scores for the next two or three minutes or so, until UCD committed their fifth team foul of the half.

UL could now attack with the confidence that any fouls would result in two free throws, regardless of the situation. Nevertheless, UCD still tried their best to claw their way back into a game that was quickly getting away from them.

With two and a half minutes left in the first quarter, UL Eagles coach, Mark Keenan, remained as vocal as ever, reminding his players that there was still a long ways to go before victory was secured. He was also sure to let the officials know about his displeasure at some of the calls.

Kinevane was the first player to reach double digits, after he sunk a field goal with less than a minute remaining in the quarter. Going into the second period of play, UCD Marian trailed by 27 points to 19. It was a lead that UL would hold for the remainder of the game.

The second quarter started off much like the first, except this time UCD had the finishing to back up their frantic play. Barry Drumm scored six points in quick succession to open the quarter and to draw the home team to within two points. Sensing danger, Keenan called for a timeout to allow UL to regroup.

Some strong words must have been said during the timeout, since Graham came out with a new intensity. A vicious slam-dunk left the travelling supporters overjoyed.

UCD Marian coach, Ioannis Liapakis, was desperately trying to bring Drumm up to speed with his gameplan on the sideline, as UCD drew to within two points of their opponents once more.

The home fans did their best to distract the UL players, employing underhanded tactics such as counting down to the end of the shot clock five seconds too early and shouting during free throws. None of this seemed to work, however, as UL put up eight unanswered points to open up an eleven point lead.

The closer it came to half time, and the more clear the gap between the sides became, as the score read 38-55 in the visitors’ favour at the break. Unfortunately for Marian, this deficit was too great to overcome.

The second half was merely a formality, with UL leading by more than 20 points at some stages. In the end, UL won the game by a comfortable 18 point margin, and deservedly so.

UCD were no match for a more disciplined team like UL, and they can have few, if any, complaints about the final scoreline. Although players like Terrance King and Barry Drumm impressed, they were also guilty of going quiet for patches of the game and the rest of the team lacked the quality to carry them over the finish line.

UCD Marian’s next home game is against Dublin Inter on Saturday, November 2nd at 7pm in the Sports Centre.