A 33-point contribution from Brittany Byrd helped The Address UCC Glanmire win the Women’s Champions Trophy title following a hard-earned win over DCU Mercy at the National Basketball Arena on Saturday.
Not a vintage Glanmire display but it was a game they never looked like losing such was their dominance from tip-off. By virtue of winning they completed another double in Irish basketball that brought their tally to 24 titles at this level.
Glanmire also went into the game minus their influential forward Claire O’Sullivan whose twin brother got married in Galway but their fringe players did enough to replace her scoring.
The Dublin side got the perfect start with American Lindsay Abded nailing a monstrous three-pointer. They were certainly motoring and added two further baskets before Aine McKenna showed her experience when shooting outside the paint.
Glanmire looked a side to be gaining momentum and consecutive Brittany Byrd threes helped give them a five-point cushion midway through the quarter that forced the DCU Mercy to call a time-out.
The one player that was posing Glanmire problems was Rachel Clancy but it was the outside shooting of Abded that posed Glanmire serious problems as the Leesiders trailed 22-21 with 1.05 remaining.
To be fair when Glanmire looked to be struggling two late baskets from Byrd brought her tally to 15 and ensured they led 27-24.
A brace of Byrd free throws got Glanmire up and running but they were now struggling in the offence court and a time-out was needed by coach Scannell to steady his troops.
The standard of basketball in the opening four minutes of this period was poor from both sides with the one plus for Glanmire being the introduction of Simone O’Shea who nullified the threat of Abded.
Byrd continued to nail vital baskets for Glanmire and with 1.10 remaining to the interval they commanded a nine-point lead.
It was ironic in the final possession Byrd produced a stunning three-pointer that ensured Glanmire went in at the break with 10-point cushion: 52-42.
A sloppy start from both sides was eventually stopped by a terrific Aine McKenna drive to the hoop.
One player that certainly had a solid game at the post was Amy Dooley as her tenacious rebounding helped her team big time.
In the 24th minute, Glanmire increased their lead to 16 points as some of DCU defending was poor and that allowed Glanmire take control.
Scoring became a rarity for both sides as Glanmire became sloppy and missed many easy tips. Credit to coach Mark Ingle he set his team nicely in this period as Glanmire looked all at sea in the offence court.
Rasheed did come up trumps in the closing passion with a fadeaway jumper that ensured the Cork side commanded a 71-58 lead.
On the resumption Byrd executed after another drive to the hoop but with their defence getting punished at will a Hannah Thornton three and basket had the deficit reduced to six.
McKenna didn’t have a great game by her standard but when the pressure was on with six minutes remaining she found a basket and bonus that restored their nine-point lead.
Simone O’Shea who made a big impact in the first half was reintroduced but the game was still in the melting pot with Glanmire still in front 80-72.
In the closing minutes, DCU looked a deflated side as despite pushing Glanmire for long periods class told in the end with the title returning to Leeside that completed a memorable double for them after another magnificent season.
B Byrd 33, K Rasheed 23, A McKenna 11, A Dooley 10.
L Abed 22, N Clancy 14, H Thornton 14, A Motz 12.
A McKenna, B Byrd, C O’Sullivan, A Murphy, M Furlong, A Furlong, L Scannell, S O’Reilly, S O’Shea, K Rasheed, C O’Driscoll, A Dooley.
M Connolly, C Mulligan, C Byrne, R Huijsdens, M Phelan, N Clancy, H Thornton, L Abed, B Roberts, M Fubara, M Clavigo, A Motz.
D Caballe (Athlone), M Landos (Portlaoise), L Aherne (Limerick).