Edinburgh University retain Women’s Basketball Cup in style

Edinburgh University basketball team
Edinburgh University basketball team
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Edinburgh University retained the Scottish Women’s Basketball Cup in style, beating rookies St Andrews Universities 77-30.

The students were so dominant there was never any real doubt of the outcome at the Lagoon Sports Centre, Paisley yesterday.

Though it did not wipe out the memory of the defeat of their men’s team the previous night and the chance of a historic double, the manner of the win in which they led 43-11 at half-time pleased their Dutch coach Bart Sengars as he prepares for three big games in the British Universities League. Next up is Newcastle who visit the Pleasance on Wednesday in the Northern Premier Division.

“We played better than last time we played St Andrews,” said Sengars. “We didn’t go to overtime this time,” he joked.

Edinburgh captain Erin McConnell was delighted to win. “It’s an honour to lift the trophy and play with this team,” said the Harvard graduate who ruled the boards with 16 rebounds as well as giving four rebounds.

But the MVP Award went to her fellow American Sarah Haejian who registered a “double double” of 12 points and ten rebounds while former Edinburgh Kool Kat Hannah Peacock scored 12 points and took seven rebounds.

Saints’ top scorer was Paige Onouye with seven including a three-pointer on the final buzzer while Toni Carvill added six.

There wasn’t, however, to be the same success for the men a day earlier. Their quest for a first Scottish Cup final win since 1965 and a fifth in all ended in desperate disappointment at the Lagoon Sports Centre on Saturday when they lost 90-75 to an inspired St Mirren who, roared on by a home crowd, roundly turned the tables on the team who had twice beaten them convincingly this season in Scottish League games.

“We performed at last,” said a jubilant St Mirren coach Stu Glass, who has many times been gracious in defeat, not least to EU coach Danny Costello whose worst fears were realised.

“They were just too big and they clearly had done their homework. That’s the best defence I’ve seen them play,” said Costello.

First winners in 1999, this was only the Paisley men’s fourth success and much of it was due to their 52-34 rebound advantage.

With Scottish internationalist Nick Collins, one of the best players in the league for a decade, rightly earning the MVP award after scoring 31 points and hauling down 11 rebounds, Saints outpowered the favourites.

Yet EU recovered so well from an early assault that, with captain Davy Rowan and Ron Adrian both hitting long threes, they were eight up late in the second quarter.

But then the relentless Collins nailed a three on the buzzer to complete an eight-point reply and EU were just 41-39 up at half-time.

Exploiting their huge height advantage as 6ft 6in-plus centres Dave Johnston and Craig Stamp came off the bench – they are even bigger than their starters Collins and Chris Cleary – Saints survived the aerial bombardment then came into their own in the second half. Going on a 14-0 run they went 57-45 up.

Even then EU did not buckle and fought back with a 7-0 run to reduce the gap to one point 62-63 in the last minute of the third quarter.

But the students were noticeably tiring and, with only one substitute used and no obvious saviours on the bench, their fate was sealed.

Cleary added 17 points and ten rebounds for another double double and the much-improved guard Chris Barron added 18 points. For EU, Jac St John scored 21, Davy Rowan 16 (4 x 3s), Ron Adrian 15 (all threes) and Brendan Mullan nine.