UCD Marian 63 UCC Demons 62
UCD Marian had enough to hold off UCC Demons in a thrilling Men’s U20 National Cup final at the National Basketball Arena last night.
In a game that Demons had enough of chances to upset their Dublin opponents poor shooting options over the four quarters cost them dearly.
To be fair although Demons had a horrible night in the shooting department the majority of their attempts were good looks much to the disappointment of coach Shane McCarthy.
McCarthy said: “The lads did their best but the shots didn’t drop as we had enough of chances to win two games but it wasn’t to be and good luck to UCD Marian.
“Always tough when you lose a final but the majority of the lads are underage again next season and we will give it another shot next season.”
The game began in a welter of excitement with Luke Gilleran and Demons' Jordan Ukah exchanging baskets in the opening minute.
Both teams looked tentative in the opening three minutes but Gilleran nailed a monstrous three-pointer that helped UCD race into an eight-point lead Demons to their credit added the next three baskets that helped them reduce the deficit to 10-8 in the seventh minute.
Incredibly with two minutes remaining the score remained 10-8 in favour of UCD Marian as their coach Fran Ryan called a time out to steady the ship.
Poor Demons defending allowed Shane Morgan nail a buzzer-beater as UCD Marian had a 17-11 cushion entering the second quarter.
On the restart the shots continued to rim out for Demons as they continued to be a scrappy affair.
Gilleran continued to break Demons' hearts and when he nailed his second three-pointer in the 13th minute it helped them race into an 11 point lead.
The Cork side refused to wilt and eight unanswered points forced UCD Marian to call a time out with 4.24 remaining to the interval as the deficit had been reduced to 22-19.
UCD were relying on Gilleran to keep them in control as he produced a third three that settled his side but Demons captain Jack O’Leary was looking fatigued in the closing minutes of this period.
Credit to Demons their spirit kept them alive and a late Daryl Cuff basket ensured they went in at the break trailing 29-25.
Demons half time stats didn’t make pretty reading as out of 18 three-pointers they attempted they only managed to make two.
It didn’t get much better for UCD as they were 5/17 but the rims at basketball headquarters have little mercy for shooters as they have been known to hurt teams who rely on winning games in that department.
Nothing improved for Demons on the restart as they continued with their silly shooting options with the same players hoping their luck would change.
UCD Marian increased their lead to seven points midway through the quarter as they were also struggling for baskets.
In the closing minutes, Demons had a chance to get back in the game but they missed easy tips.
To be fair UCD were just a little better and a late Sotiris Mitidis basket ensured they commanded an eight-point lead 42-34 entering the crucial final quarter.
Mathew McCarthy opened up with two free throws for Demons but they needed to find a way to execute shots.
When Paraic Moran nailed a three UCD Marian surged into an 11 point lead.
Despite UCD increasing their lead 55-38 with five minutes remaining a full-court press saw squeaky bum time as Demons hit 10 unanswered points the deficit reduced to five points with three minutes remaining.
A late Cuff three-pointer was as good as it got for Demons as UCD just about held out for a superb win.