Irish Basketball Super League

Belfast Star 97 Ulster University 77

Runaway North Conference leaders, Belfast Star put up 31 decisive points in the first quarter alone as they Christened Newforge Sports Arena with a 97-77 derby win over cross-city rivals Ulster University to go 14-1 in the Super League table.

Belfast’s basketball fans certainly came out in force to view the new state-of-the-art court and to see Star take another step to securing the Conference title and that all-important home advantage going into the play-offs.

Star began the game as if they had been playing at Newforge for years. First to make his mark was De’Ondre Jackson who dropped in the opening competitive points in the new venue. 

Fellow American Tamyrik Fields was also quickly into his game and would hit 10 points in the first, ably supported by Aidan Quinn and Albanian Frenki Lilaj on six points apiece as Star dashed to a 31-17 lead to signal their dominance in the opening 10 minutes.  

Max Richardson led the Star scoring in the second as UU rallied well to keep the home side honest and share the quarter at 19 apiece to leave Star still 14 points ahead at the half time break.

Spectators were then treated to a little razzamatazz at the interval courtesy of North Belfast youth dance troupe Express Yourself who provided an energetic routine for the packed venue.

Star themselves then picked up on some of that energy in the third quarter, increasing their lead thanks to Fields, Richardson and Conor Quinn all contributing well to a 26-point haul that drove them even further in front, 76-24.\

Going into the fourth, Star took the opportunity to look to the bench and the likes of Paddy McGaharan and Jack Summersgill impressed as the clock wound down. There was an especially warm reception for last year’s captain and Star veteran, Conor Johnston who joined the fray late on. 

UU took the final quarter by two, 21-23, to leave Star the winners by a full 20 points, 97-77. Afterwards, club captain Conor Quinn reflected on the win and the court.

“I have to say, the venue is amazing and it’s something we’ve been really looking forward to experiencing on game days,” he said.

“I think we played really great this evening against a UU side that came in on the back of some strong performances. 

“I felt though that we controlled the game from the tip and got great contributions from the bench too. Going forward now, we’re striving for more of the same – just focusing on one game at a time and seeing where it takes us.”

Top performers for Star were Tamyrik Fields on 25 points, De’Ondre Jackson and Conor Quinn on 15, Max Richardson on 14 and Aidan Quinn on 11.  

Fields was again dominant on rebounding (9) with great support from Jackson and Conor Quinn (7 each), and Lilaj and Oisin Kerlin (6 apiece).

For UU, Conor Liston lead the way with 21 points, with strong support from Nathaniel Shaper and Eric Anderson.

Star’s next game is a trip to Dublin’s National arena this weekend where they’ll face Templeogue in a 7pm tip on Saturday evening. 

Meanwhile, in-form Ulster University put a further dent on SETU Waterford Wildcats' ambitions at the top of the table with a 94-81 win at Jordanstown Sports Village.

The travelling party trailed Ulster by 11 at the close of the first quarter and, with Delia Moore and Trinity Oliver totalling 45 points and 23 rebounds between them, the hosts held firm to make it four wins on the bounce.