UCC Demons 92 Tralee Warriors 86
UCC Demons produced a magical closing quarter to secure maximum points against Tralee Warriors in a highly-charged Men’s Super League clash at the Mardyke Arena.
In a game strewn with errors from both sides Demons inspired by new American signing MJ Randolph found the key baskets to get over the line.
The Warriors Bosman Matija Jokic gave the visitors the perfect start with a basket and three-pointer in the opening minute.
Demons looked all st sea in defence as the Warriors carved them open with ease and after three minutes the Tralee side were still in control with a seven-point lead.
Gradually Demons Spanish ace Tala Fam began finding his range and three consecutive baskets brought the sides on parity midway through the half.
MJ Randolph was having a tough baptism on his home debut as he failed to score in the opening six minutes with the Warriors playing some excellent defence.
Randolph did nail a brace of free throws with a minute a half remaining but to be fair his defence was right from the top draw as the home side commanded a 22-20 lead entering the second quarter.
On the resumption, both sides missed good scoring opportunities and some poor turnovers saw the standard drop a little in the early exchanges of this period.
The scoring averages were poor in this period but with Demons struggling with their outside shooting the Warriors took command when surging into a seven-point lead following a De Ondre Jackson three with 3.03 remaining to the interval.
Amazingly the Warriors went into meltdown in the closing Demons and when Kingsley Nwagboso picked up a sloppy rebound with 35 seconds remaining the deficit was reduced to three points with Tralee calling a time-out.
Jackson nailed basket for the Warriors but luckily Randolph responded with a drive to the hoop that ensured Demons trailed 47-44 after a disappointing first half where the home side showed little or no structure at either end of the court.
A Randolph interception saw him give Demons the perfect start but some dreadful defence allowed the Warriors nail three consecutive shots outside the paint that gave them a seven-point lead.
Demons continued to play in snatches but the Warriors dug deep to take a four-point lead into the final quarter.
Consecutive Jackson threes gave the Warriors a seven-point lead with eight minutes remaining as Demons looked to be very much on the ropes.
Coming down the stretch Demons found another gear and helped by a Scott Hannigan dagger outside arc they saw off the resilient Warriors.
MJ Randolph 33, T Fam 19, K Nwagboso 15.
De Ondre Jackson 28, M Jokic 21, K Donaghy 14.
J Hannigan, S Carney, R Moore, K Hosford, S Hannigan, D Lehane, T Fam, V Bykov, C Cuff, C Looney, K Nwagboso, S Manojovic, K Moynihan, B Murphy.
A Uosis, D Kenneally, F O’Sullivan, De Ondre Jackson, A Michelsson, K Crowe, K Donaghy, D Jokubaitis, S Bowler, E Quigley, M Jakic, P Fleming.
M Alkurdi (Mullingar), P Persson (Cork), G Daly (Cork).