A stunning 34-point contribution from UCC Demons American M J Randolph was good enough to win a compelling Men’s Super League derby against Energywise Ireland Neptune at a packed Mardyke Arena on Friday night.
Demons only took 10 seconds to open their account but Neptune replied with consecutive baskets.
Kingsley Nwagboso had a decent game in the offence court but his defence was suspect with Neptune killing the home side on the low post.
In the early exchanges, both sides were guilty of playing inept defence and with Blount having a good night at the office Neptune surged into a 22-17 lead in the sixth minute.
In the closing minutes of this period, the Demons got scrappy, playing no defence and with Nil Sabata murdering them at the post it was no surprise they led 35-23 entering the second quarter. The home side did open up with seven consecutive points but Neptune soon regained their composure to regain a 10-point lead.
Sabata continued to hurt Demons and with the hosts relying on Randolph to keep them at bay they trailed by seven points midway through the quarter.
Discipline is crucial in every sport and Demons lost the plot with two technical in the space of a minute giving verbals to the match officials.
Both teams continued to struggle in defence, particularly Neptune as they allowed Demons tie the game at 48 points each with 1.15 remaining to the interval.
Randolph proved to be Demons' trump card in the closing minute when nailing a monstrous three-pointer that ensured his team went in at the break commanding a one-point lead: 51-50.
Neptune came out of the blocks quickest and in the space of a minute commanded a four-point lead.
Suddenly Demons got a run and in the space of three minutes helped by a brace of Randolph three-pointers they raced into an eight-point lead: 65-57.
Neptune suddenly went into a complete meltdown and with various shooting and passing options going amiss they found themselves trailing by nine points with 17 seconds remaining.
Neptune did manage to get a basket back courtesy of Cian Heaphy as the sold-out attendance were awaiting an explosive fourth quarter.
Coming down the stretch Neptune rediscovered their shooting form, and a three coupled with a basket for Blount meant the deficit was reduced to six with 3.58 left on the clock.
Demons restored a 12-point lead but eight consecutive points from Blount reduced the deficit to four points with a minute remaining and possession for Neptune.
In the closing seconds Demons held firm as their fans went wild at the sound of the final buzzer.
M J Randolph 34, K Nwagboso 15, T Fam 11.
J Blount 32, N Sabata 18, R Downey 15.
J Hannigan, S Carney, R Moore, K Hosford, S Hannigan, D Lehane, T Fam, V Bykov, C Cuff, C Looney, K Nwagboso, S Manojovic, B Murphy.
G Walsh, K O’Donoghue, R Downey, A Heaphy, J Evans, X Arriaga, N Sabata, J Blount, T Ferguson, K Garcia, C Heaphy, C Leahy, D O’Sullivan.
J Dooley (Portlaoise), M Landos (Dublin), J Malysko (Dublin).