Vet student Michael Kirkpatrick made a surprise and crucial first appearance of the season for Edinburgh University to help the Capital side virtually clinch the Scottish Universities basketball title with a 72-62 win over nearest rivals Dundee at the Pleasance.
It was a score which flattered the visitors, who trailed by 30 points at one stage but rallied to take the final quarter 29-8.
Although Edinburgh still have three games to play, they are now two wins clear of Dundee and would need to lose all three remaining fixtures to weaker opponents for Dundee to catch them.
Kirkpatrick is a former US NCAA division one player at San Diego who starred for Edinburgh Kings for two seasons before giving up national league play to concentrate on his studies.
He scored 17 points, with 14 of those coming in the first half, only to pull a calf muscle when he tried to return in the second half.
American Ryan Ness and team captain Ben Warrington were Edinburgh’s joint top scorers with 19 points as they thrived on the service provided by Kirkpatrick and Scottish point guard Davy Rowan.
Kirkpatrick hit three three-pointers in the second quarter as Edinburgh went on a 16-0 run to break the game open, and they were 39-24 up at half-time, a lead they were to stretch to 61-33 at the end of the third.
Warrington scrapped well under the basket and took several crucial rebounds while Ness had at least two colossal dunks.
Kirkpatrick’s injury was not the only one to hit the Edinburgh side. Jake Warrington, younger brother of Ben who had stepped up to the first team for the Strathclyde game, suffered a bad shoulder injury in the second team game and had to go to hospital. However, fears that he had broken his collar bone were premature and his diagnosis is bad nerve damage and swelling.
Both casualties will miss Edinburgh’s next game and may be out for the season.
Edinburgh Uni’s next opponents are Worcester 2nds who travel to play Edinburgh at the Pleasance in the BUCS Cup on Wednesday.