In their third game of the season, the DCU Saints improved their record to 2-1 with a dominant home win over the University of Limerick Eagles in the DCU Sports Centre in Glasnevin. Captain Eoin Darling led his team by example with 26 points. UL will feel they need a greater spread of scorers if they’re to bounce back from this defeat – points were hard to come by when Zedric Sadler was off the floor.
Martins Provizors asserted his physical dominance on both ends of the floor from the outset. The Eagles focused on mid-range shooting and their transition game, but the 6’7” centre racked up seven points and six rebounds in the first quarter.
After an early Limerick timeout, the Saints fired back with some threes of their own, including one from the aforementioned Latvian, to open up a six-point lead, which they held to the end of the first quarter. This was in part due to UL’s inefficient 50% mark from the stripe.
It is no coincidence that the Eagles’ fortunes improved after the introduction of veteran guard Matt Hall. With his team down two, the Welshman split the DCU defence in two before attempting a tear-drop. Jack Kelly won the rebound and drew a foul, from which the Eagles tied the game.
Despite Hall’s contributions, the visiting team dug themselves a hole through their reliance on Zedric Sadler’s scoring. The former Rider University (NJ) guard scored 11 points in the opening two quarters and the Saints went on a 9-0 run to end the first half with Sadler on the bench to go into the interval with a 41-31 lead.
The Saints’ run continued into the third quarter, as Krystan Burchardt missed a corner three with the opening shot of the quarter and the Saints opened up a 14-point lead midway through the period.
Pat McCarthy, who scored six in the first half, made an immediate impact upon his reintroduction with a catch-and-shoot three, but the Latvian duo of Provizors and Makarenko immediately cancelled this out with two layups, the second coming despite a foul from Sadler, and Makarenko made it three from 15 feet.
The Saints maintained their comfortable lead until the end of the third quarter. Graham Brannerly found his shot late in the third after a disappointing first half in which he committed three fouls. The Saints guard extended his team’s lead to 13 with a three in the final minute of the penultimate quarter to make the score 55-42.
After rejecting Ronan Howlan’s shot in the paint, Provizors showed that he has the skills of a guard by stripping the Eagles guard on the very next play. Another two following a route one pass from Provizors in transition was greeted with roaring applause from the home crowd to give the Eagles the impression it wasn’t their night.
With five minutes remaining, the Saints again extended their lead to 13. Tariq Gueballi sold the defence by faking an under-the-basket layup in the vein of Julius Erving before dishing to Brannerly, who gracefully added another three to his side’s tally even with Hall’s hand in his face.
Eagles coach Thomas Walsh voiced his frustration with his team’s failure to apply a full-court press when down 11 with two minutes remaining. The late press from Sadler and Hall made space for Provizors to step outside before driving to the hoop and drawing a foul. The Latvian dropped both shots to give his team a 70-55 lead with 1:20 remaining.
Less than a minute later, Provizors cemented the Saints’ second win of the season with a dunk that collapsed the backboard to a height of less than a foot.
As DCU shifted into neutral for the final few seconds of play, the Eagles narrowed the deficit to 74-60 but in truth, they were outclassed by a superior Saints side and Fintan Reilly will be pleased to pick up win number two before their game against Éanna at the National Basketball Arena on Saturday, October 15th.
DCU Saints: Kevin O’Hanlon 4 points
Eoin Darling (c) 26 points
Conor Gilligan 11 points
Arkadijs Makarenko 3 points
Martins Provizors 14 points
Shane Davidson 5 points
Mark Nagle 0 points
Graham Brannelly 9 points
Rob Sullivan 0 points
Martin Neary 0 points
Tariq Gueballi 2 points
Dan Heaney 0 points
UL Eagles: Ronan Howlan 2 points
Neil Campbell (c) 4 points
Andrew Dawson 0 points
Zedric Sadler 22 points
Krystan Burchardt 11 points
Dave O’Connell 0 points
Eoin Quigley 2 points
Matt Hall 0 points
Séamus Hickey 0 points
Jack Kelly 5 points
Pat McCarthy 12 points
Diarmuid O’Shea 2 points
Image credit: Ciarán Dunne