Edinburgh University women were rewarded for a strict training regime when they captured the Scottish Women’s Basketball Cup for the first time.
Uni defeated holders Edinburgh Kool Kats 70-59 at the Lagoon Sports Centre, Paisley.
“They deserved it – they’ve been averaging ten training sessions a week for the last month and were up at 6.30 on Friday morning and back in the sports hall on Saturday, they proved they could do it,” said their Dutch coach Bart Sengers, who had twice seen his team beaten by more than 20 points by their city rivals in the Scottish League, the second only ten days ago.
“There was a game plan and it worked – we out-rebounded them even though they were bigger.”
American guard Sheila Dixon, who had been suffering from a heavy cold all week and twice had to leave the court with cramp, scored 22 points and took 15 rebounds for a “double double”, as well as giving eight assists, and earned the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award.
But another American, Dori Lansbach, who paid her own way from California to join the team and hopes to return to pursue a research degree, added 20 points including a hot spell of four three-pointers. Former Perth Phoenix player Katy Brown hit a heady three threes in a row.
Most welcome of all was a “double double” second half from team stalwart Cathy Mitchell, who scored 11 points and took 11 rebounds.
Dixon said: “It was a real team effort – they played with so much heart and every point mattered.
“We knew we were underdogs but I was much more relaxed this time and wasn’t trying to force up shots while Cathy was the spark off the bench that we needed in the second half to get us there.”
EU quickly built up a 10-1 lead at the start. They were 18-15 up after the first quarter and, thanks mainly to the barrage of Lansbach threes, were 37-27 up at half-time with Leanne Page and Edinburgh University student Hannah Peacock replying for Kats.
Kats’ Emma Findlay hit her only three and it was back to only 41-34 for EU and we wondered if the holders were about to launch their fightback.
But Katy Brown and Cathy Mitchell killed that off and it was 59-41 to EU at the end of the third, with no way back for the holders.
“Playing with Sheila and Dori was amazing and I could learn so much from playing with them – but Bart is amazing as well – I’ve nothing but positive things to say,” said Mitchell.
Ironically Peacock, who plays for EU in British Universities competition, was top Kat with 17 points and 15 rebounds, Page adding 17 points and Findlay, who played all 40 minutes, ten.
Earlier, Boroughmuir Blaze had completed a fine junior-cadet double by beating St Mirren juniors 81-67, helped by 31 points from Brendan Mullen and 18 each from Sam Stott and Tony Low-Macrae.
Polonia Phoenix went down 108-65 to Stirling-West Lothian Select in the cadette women’s final despite 25 points from MVP Sian Phillips and 17 from Clodagh Mullen.
Blaze cadets beat Edinburgh Kings 74-53 on Saturday when Lothian Phoenix also beat West Scotland Warriors 50-41 in the wheelchair final.
Inspired by a superb 50 points from their Scottish Rocks guard Jonny Bunyan, Falkirk Fury defeated St Mirren 99-96 after overtime to retain the Scottish senior men’s trophy in one of the best finals for many years.
Saints built up a 13-point first-half lead and were still up 47-42 at half-time, then Fury fought back to lead 61-53.
But Saints pulled level at 91-91 after normal time then went two up in the extra five minutes only for Falkirk to regain control with Bunyan sealing the win from the free-throw line.
Nick Collins (St Mirren) was named MVP for his 47 points and 17 rebounds contribution, though others felt Bunyan had deserved the accolade for his exceptional display.