DCU Women’s Basketball last week lifted the NBCC Women’s Division 1 league title with a 73-60 win over Ulster University.
DCU had finished second in Division 1 North, behind Ulster University, with both teams progressing to the semi-final stage.
They started the season with a 62-59 win over Trinity College Dublin before suffering their only defeat, a 63-54 loss away to Ulster University.
However, DCU followed that up with three wins on the bounce, winning 77-46 in UCD and 62-53 against Letterkenny IT.
The final game of the league season saw DCU romp to a comprehensive 94-32 win over DIT.
DCU were drawn against IT Carlow in the semi-finals after Carlow had topped the Division One South table, winning all five of their group games.
DCU progressed to the final though, beating IT Carlow 73-41, to set up a final with Ulster University, who beat University of Limerick 69-63 in the other semi-final.
The final saw DCU race into a 20 point (48-28) half time lead. Ulster looked to get back into the game in the final two quarters but it was DCU who ran out 13 points winners on a 73-60 scoreline.
“We travelled up to UUJ (Ulster University Jordanstown) in November. It was one of our first games of the season and playing in their home gym was always going to be tough.
“We’ve been having tough battles with UUJ for the past number of years and their American scholar Kollyns Scarbrough was excellent and really hurt us that day,” DCU’s Megan Connolly told The College View.
“We only lost by a small margin and we knew that if we got the chance to meet them again in the final we had to make some adjustments to stop her and then we could come away with the win.
“Coming up to the finals we worked really hard as a team to get everything right and our coach Mark Ingle put in some new defences for us to use on the day.
“It feels great to be able to get the win and come away with the silverware. We’ve played UUJ in our last 3 All-Ireland finals in the last 2 years between Varsities’ and League and we’ve been fortunate to be able to come away with the wins on all 3 occasions,” Connolly said.
American Scholar, and MVP in the final, Samantha Hyslip echoed Connolly’s thoughts on their battles with Ulster University and wasn’t surprised by their fightback in the second half of the game.
“They beat us in that first game. They played very well, and we did not play to the best of our ability in that game. They are a great team with a lot of talented players that play well together.
“So we knew that meeting them again would be tough and we needed to come prepared. Winning the game was super fun and rewarding. Really nice to be able to represent DCU in that light,” Hyslip said.
“They are a very good team, so it’s no surprise that they fought until the final seconds. We did give ourselves a nice lead for a while, but they came back strong in the third quarter.
“I think that because we started so well in the first half, it really set the tone for the rest of the game,” Hyslip explained.
Hyslip and DCU teammate Adaysha Williams are both part of the Sport Changes Life programme, and are studying, playing and coaching in Ireland.
“It is such a pleasure and honor to be a victory scholar. Adaysha and I are getting an unreal experience in Dublin playing basketball, earning our masters, and coaching some local players.
“The program prides itself on using the opportunities we have been allotted through basketball in our lives to give back to the communities throughout Ireland,” Hyslip said.
Intervarsities are next on the horizon for DCU, with the teams focus set on a third consecutive title.
“We’re going to stay focused and train hard and Coach Ingle will have us ready to hopefully come away with a third Varsity’ title in a row,” Connolly said.
Image Credit: Michelle La Grue Photography / Basketball Ireland Colleges