The UCD Marian basketball team let a valuable opportunity to save face slip by as they continued their losing streak and fell to the bottom of the Nivea for Men Superleague table. Dublin Inter came back from a six point deficit at the end of the first quarter to secure a sizeable lead by the time the final quarter began.
Inter capitalised on their superior shooting, knocking back numerous three-pointers whereas Marian’s inaccuracy meant they left a large chunk of points on the court on Saturday night. UCD tried to mount a comeback in the last quarter, but the difference between the two sides was too great for them to overcome.
It was not the result that Marian needed, considering their poor performances so far this season, giving Inter victory in their first ever Superleague match in UCD. This result followed a change in head coach for Marian after former coach Sasa Punosevac left by mutual agreement earlier in the season.
New coach Frank Ryan seems to be having as much difficulty as his predecessor in trying to get the club back into its previously winning form. This was clear from the get-go as the first quarter was dominated by a large amount of missed shots from both sides, with Inter being the bigger culprits.
The home side seemed shaky from the start and missed a number of shots that they would have usually scored from. Conor Meany broke through the centre to score a basket from below to open the scoring for Marian. This score was soon followed by Neil Baynes, who made a skilful long shot for their second point which was followed shortly with a dunk from Paddy Young.
It took Inter three minutes to collect themselves and finally register a score. This seemed to bring both teams to life as Mindaugas Tamusaukas soared up for Inter’s second basket, which was quickly followed by the teams trading scores.
Inter soon had their first lead of the night, with UCD trailing by two points at the end of the fifth minute of play. Liam Conroy ran in a couple of points for UCD before the end of the quarter which gave UCD the lead, but not before Aurimas Statkus could close the gap to 20-14 in Marian’s favour by the end of the first quarter.
The new American player for UCD; Thomas Viglianco missed a shot with four seconds left, missing an opportunity to give UCD a buffer for the second quarter and Dublin Inter came alive in the second quarter, showing none of the apparent nervousness that they had before the break. They scored the first three baskets of the quarter, countered by an interception-fed field goal by Conor Meany.
An impressive dunk by Audrius Pauliukenas and a brilliant three-pointer by Inter meant that UCD now trailed 27-20, with three minutes gone of the second quarter. Inter got three free throws for an infringement by UCD which saw them sinking two out of three for a seven point lead with 6:23 to go in the half.
At this stage, the Marian coach had to be told to return to his seat after a heated argument with the referee over what Coach Ryan perceived to be a foul by Statkus. It was not long before Kevin Foley was able to make both free throws after being fouled, bringing the score to 30-24 to Inter.
Another three-pointer followed by a basket by Remigijus Dimiciukas brought Inter into a comfortable lead with 3:50 left. Marian were visibly unsettled by this spate of scores and started missing a number of shots.
Conor James, uncharacteristically, missed his next few shots, clearly nervous by the way the game was turning and the heckling of the supporters from Dublin Inter. UCD picked it up during the last few minutes of the half, but it was not enough as by the end of the second quarter they were ten points down, leaving Inter leading by 40 points to 30.
The third quarter was largely ill-disciplined on both sides, mainly due to frustration by the home players. Kevin Foley was involved in a scuffle for the ball on the floor of the middle of the court, which resulted in his glasses breaking. He opted to stay on while those on the side-line worked with fervour to fix them.
During his time without his glasses, he missed a couple of shots, possibly because of impaired vision, but most likely due to the impressive defence of Audrius Dimiciukas and Mazvydas Cepliauskas. Inter slotted home another two three-pointers and a number of field goals with UCD struggling to catch up.
Audrius Pauliukenas was integral to the Inter offense, scoring the majority of the points for his team during a period of dominance for his team that saw the score sit at 60-42 at the end of the third.
Kevin Foley managed to get his glasses fixed in time for the last quarter and buried a much-needed three-pointer. Conor James also made up for his previous follies by bagging a sweet three-pointer for his team and it appeared that UCD might stage a comeback, but it was too little too late as Inter’s lead was too great for UCD to make any meaningful difference.
Mariusz Landos hit the final nail in the UCD coffin when he sprinted behind the Marian defence in the last few seconds to extend their lead to 14 points.
Final Result: UCD Marian 65 Dublin Inter 79
Reporting by Dónal Woods