Irish Basketball Super League
UCD Marian 70 Belfast Star 75
Belfast Star head to Dublin’s Templeogue this Saturday for their last league game of the season, safe in the knowledge that they have secured a home berth for the Super League playoffs the following weekend.
At present, Cork side Neptune are favourites to earn the right to face Adrian Fulton’s reigning All-Ireland Champions in the La Salle College gym - the venue where the teams played out a thriller just a few weeks ago as the home side just about edged the win.
Star finally secured home-court advantage for the knock-out stages in an astounding comeback away win against UCD Marian last week.
After struggling offensively for most of the game, Star were down 11 points going into the final quarter against a team that had indeed already beaten them earlier in the season.
The introduction of Dominic Lynn for the final ten minutes, however, helped ignite a blistering 27-11 run that had Star’s travelling supporters raising the roof in south Dublin.
With the game ebbing away from them, coaches Fulton and Gerard Ryan felt the need to introduce Lynn to counter the threat of Marian veteran Conor Meaney if Star were going to get anything from the game.
Wow, wow, wow. Stunning comeback win after storming the 4th Q 27-11. Final score UCD Marian 70, Star 75. That seals home court advantage in the playoffs!! pic.twitter.com/4kfeCrq2VY— Belfast Star (@BelfastStar64) March 5, 2022
“Dominic did indeed nullify Meaney,” said Fulton. “And he added much-needed points on offence too, including the final score from the floor - the one that really put it beyond Marian in the dying seconds.”
Star got off to a shaky start in the game and suffered a lot of damage in the first quarter through several turnovers en route to a 25-16 deficit. They then edged the second quarter but more turnovers and early foul trouble meant they couldn’t eat into the Marian lead as much as they deserved.
Marian took the third by a margin of five to build an eleven-point lead ahead of the final action. However, the introduction of Lynn and an early seven-point burst courtesy of Shon Briggs and Jonny Foulds meant it was soon game-on again with lots of time on the clock.
Briggs levelled the game at 61 apiece before Conor Quinn put Star ahead on the five-minute mark. Marian were to move ahead just one more time before excellent defensive work from Lynn, Briggs and Max Cooper held Star tight at the back.
A quick six-point burst from Cooper then got Star’s nose in front before points from Lynn and Briggs sealed the game.
A relieved Fulton added: “I was delighted with the character that the lads showed in the final quarter. When they had to show their mettle, they did exactly that.”
Top scorers for Star were Shon Briggs (21), Max Cooper (18) and Conor Quinn (12).