UCD Marian – 78
Trinity College – 59
Trinity will be disappointed with their performance as they threw away a golden opportunity to beat rivals UCD Marian away from home on Tuesday night. Marian started the day in third place of Dublin Men’s Basketball Division 3, four places ahead of a mid-table Trinity team. Trinity gave a very good showing for most of the match but their discipline in the last quarter seemed to unravel entirely as the pressure of chasing the win got the better of them.
Trinity started the game very brightly. Their speed in attack seemed to catch the home team off-guard as Marian struggled to contain the visiting side. Trinity rushed into a lead, mainly through Louis Seibenhaler, scoring nine points in the first quarter. Their first-half lead was preserved well by Trinity’s two forwards Manus Darby and Hugh Mitchell, who secured a number of defensive rebounds which allowed the team to break into transition swiftly and prevented Marian picking up easy points. A moment of confusion and controversy emerged late on in the first quarter when UCD’s Peter Mitchell picked up a technical foul. The decision brought cries from both benches, but ended swiftly when the referee asserted that her word was final. As the first quarter came to a close, Trinity were ahead 17-12 and in a commanding position.
In the second quarter, Trinity should have dominated. Unfortunately, Marian had overcome their struggles. They quickly levelled things up and took advantage of a possibly complacent Trinity side. Everything seemed to go right for the home team as their prowess shone through. They picked off loose passes and made Trinity pay for silly mistakes. Trinity’s defence seemed rocked and they missed a number of good chances going forward. Robbie Fidgeon-Kavanagh scored a flurry of points for Trinity late in the quarter, but the moment of the half went to Renatus Nedzveckas as the Marian big man sunk a three-pointer from near centre court right on the buzzer. His stunning shot put UCD’s total for the period to 25 and put them back in the driving seat as they led 37-31 at half-time.
The game was by no means beyond the Trinity players and after half-time, there was a definite impetus from the team to close the gap. Peter Coogan, who had a great game all round, played some smart basketball and racked up half of Trinity’s tally for the penultimate period. However, their points seemed to come more from sheer force of will rather than plays as UCD’s defence stayed strong and prevented them from getting easy baskets. The few times Trinity broke through, they could again be accused of not being clinical enough. However, Trinity’s defence was equally strong as they prevented the Marian playmakers from getting into any sort of rhythm. Darby was brilliant under the boards and Coogan expertly kept a level head whenever a rebound came his way; always waiting to pick a smart pass, not just the first pass. Trinity brought the deficit back to only four points as they entered the final quarter at 48-44.
Unfortunately, Trinity’s discipline let them down in the final quarter, making it difficult for them to mount a challenge. It wasn’t long before Trinity were coughing up free throws for minor transgressions as a result of their ill-discipline, and Marian took full advantage. Their two playmakers, Themba Nkoala and Mhark Eria, had both played brilliantly throughout the whole match, causing major problems for the Trinity defence with their lightning pace and shooting ability. But with the clock ticking down, the duo really twisted the knife, running some excellent plays straight off the training ground with ease. Nkoala ended up with eight points for the quarter, bringing his total to 22 for the match. At full time, Marian had put a further 30 points on the board – twice what Trinity had scored in the same period.
Trinity will be annoyed at how they threw away a chance to overcome UCD on their own turf, especially given how close the game was going into the last quarter. However, it was clear what let them down at the end of the day: discipline and strength in depth. It was hard for Trinity to keep up with the fresh legs and they ended up committing numerous fouls that they hadn’t been making in the previous stages of the game. While they can do nothing about player numbers, Trinity will need to learn from their mistakes and move forward. Trinity’s next game is away to Barrow Rovers on January 15.