BUCS FINAL 8: WORCESTER, CARNEGIE WIN OUT

In the final of the British Universities and College Sports Championships, Worcester were crowned as men's basketball champions after a 70-66 win over Durham.

Worcester had led 46-40 at half-time but Paul Elderkin inspired a Durham rally to close the gap to 58-57 at the end of the third. However, Worcester made a timely run and held on to claim the title.

Leeds Carnegie were crowned as women's champions after a 80-77 win over UWIC. Tina Menz was named as MVP.

 

SEMI FINAL 1: DURHAM 75 – 69 SOUTH BANK
Durham’s 4th quarter comeback and solid play in overtime, punctuated by a Chris Pierce dunk and shirtless celebration, secured them the victory here after LSBU lead for most of the contest.

Point guard Kevin Bulger, who finished with 25 points, came up big in the clutch to secure the victory, after LSBU’s early momentum had faded.

LSBU got off to a rapid start with an intense defensive setup that reduced Durham, who took 4 minutes to open their account, to a strictly 3 point shooting team. A strictly bad 3 point shooting team at that.

Mike Martin was the catalyst for LSBU’s quick start. Making a real nuisance of himself on both ends. The veteran was grabbing rebounds, blocking shots, getting steals and hitting his shots. Karolis Petkus was finding his way to the cup and hitting from deep, and skipper Armand Anebo was banging inside, putting Durham on the back foot from the get-go.

They kept within touching distance though. Bulger and big man Paul Nelson providing the offense for a team who appeared slightly jaded for the open 20 minutes but managed to go into the half trailing on 31-27.

South Bank point guard Noah Arturo and Anebo, who had a sweet spin move on the baseline that left 3 Durham defenders clueless, came out strong in the 2nd half and LSBU were keeping the game very much in their suited, high tempo frenzy, leading 53-44 after 3 quarters.

Despite having lead from the opening tip, LSBU hadn’t figured out a way of stopping Bulger, who showed no intention of giving any tips. Combined with Nelson cleaning house inside, Durham managed a striking comeback and tied in up at 65-65 at the end of regulation, with Bulger hitting a huge shot with 8 seconds remaining.

LSBU will look at a controversial refereeing decision in the last minute, which gave Durham the ball after it appeared to come of a Durham hand, as decisive in their OT downfall. But it was woeful free throw shooting gave Durham the advantage they didn’t squander, although that decision definitely didn’t help.

With 10 seconds left and LSBU down by 4, Chris Pierce grabbed a stray pass and went coast to coast for the dunk on Petkus.

The top came off. The guns got flexed. And Durham was into the final.
 

SEMI FINAL 2: OXFORD 95 – 101 WORCESTER
After the toughest 1st day matchup of all teams who qualified for the semi finals, Oxford we’re always in danger of being carried by tired legs in this one. Credit should be given to them for not showing it for the opening 40 minutes, but the overtime period proved too much.

Callum Jones dominated the extra period, playing as quick and smooth as he had all game to deny Oxford, lead by Will Scott’s 34 points, a matchup with Durham for the grand prize.

With Luke Sanders keeping the floor spread with his 3 point marksmanship, Alex Zimnickas was able to find his comfort spots on the floor, which were remarkably varied. The big man finished with 29 points, hitting from deep and working in the post.

Scott seemed incapable of missing in the first half, pulling up from all over the court without a hint of hesitation. With help inside from of Stephen Danley and Reed Douchette, the two teams were trading baskets until the final minutes of the 2nd quarter.

With Head Coach, Paul James, looking to go into the break with a lead, Worcester threw on a full court zone press. Jones, Sanders and Dorian pushing high up the court. A man press wouldn’t have caused many problems, as Oxford has a slick backcourt, but James’ zone caused all kinds of problems. 5 turnovers later and Worcester lead 49-40 at the half.

Oxford came out in the 3rd moving the ball quickly and trying to progress the ball up the floor before Worcester could setup their press. Scott stayed gunning without remorse and Danley and Douchette kept crashing the boards and finishing in the paint. Oxford was rewarded with a 64-3 lead at the end of 3.

It looked like Oxford would complete the comeback. Karolis Bauza kept the pressure on the Worcester defense, and his team lead 83- 78 with 2 minutes left. If not for Luke Sanders back to back 3’s in the clutch, Oxford’s efforts would have been justified with a place in the final, but the Worcester guard gunned his team into an overtime period that, when looking at the two team’s benches and fatigue, seemed like a certain victory.

Worcester simply had too much energy for Oxford in the extra period. Zimnickas and Jones both made big defensive plays, and Jones took it upon himself to torment the Oxford defense when they were in their most vulnerable state.

For 50 minutes Oxford battled with a largely 6 man rotation. So there’s no shame in this defeat; Worcester were simply a stronger outfit.
 

DAY 1 RECAP

GAME 1: LONDON SOUTH BANK 104 – 72 NORTHUMBRIA

After an initial strong surge, Northumbria eventually ran out of ideas and London South Bank advanced with key players able to get plenty of rest.

Northumbria guards, Toby Morgan and Justin Hitchman were penetrating with ease in the first. Justin in particular had his head his head on a swivel, attacking the seams, dishing and finishing to take a 15-8 lead over the popular favourite of the tournament.

Although South Bank got off to a slow start, credit should go to Northumbria and new coach Mark Steule as they seized the early momentum and showed LSBU that victory would have to be earned.

Yet with a late flourish from Dave Ajumobi, Ladi Brown and Armand Anebo, the game was tied after the 1st quarter; LSBU never looked back and Northumbria never looked the same.

LSBU changed to a 3-2 zone with Brown pressuring the ball handler and Mike Martin getting his hands on any casual passes trying to make their way through the paint.

Martin was reserved on offense but completely locked any Northumbria slashers down.

With LSBU allowing Northumbria to shoot 3’s and no one looking ready to exploit this, LSBU ran away with this one. Every missed shot and turnover was rewarded with layups for LSBU and it was 74-54 at the end of 3.

Northumbria put on a full court press in vain in the 4th and with Anebo dominating the boards (and I mean dominating) and contributions from Karolis Petkus, Damoy Robertson and Ajumobi , LSBU were thinking about the semi finals long before the final buzzer.

Credit should go to Luke Mclean who didn’t have an ounce of quit in him; battling against LSBU’s bigs isn’t an ideal Friday afternoon out but he seemed to relish the challenge.

 

GAME 2: DURHAM 79 – 44 MIDDLESEX

Although Paul and Mark Elderkin were benched for the start of this one, any Middlsex hopes that Durham was taking it easy were swiftly shattered.

Middlesex went scoreless for the first 9 minutes whilst Durham strolled into their offensive rhythm with Kevin Bulger, Stephen Jones and Paul Nelson in fine form.

Whilst Jamel Felix proved a sole, reluctant victim, Middlesex were helpless to Durham’s sturdy defence and ball movement and found themselves behind 43-13 at the half.

With Coach Dave Elderkin’s peace of mind growing, he was able to call on subs John Morgan, Jordon Bohanon and Adam Henderson to see the victory in. Henderson was particularly impressive and proved an important part in Durham’s weekend when they will be more reliant on the bench for impact.

With Durham digging deep into their bench and with Felix continuing his battering ram tactics the second half was a more even affair, but the result was inevitable.

Durham will face LSBU today at 1:00 which should provide a more strenuous test.

 

GAME 3: WORCESTER 70 – 37 BRUNEL

What did this game tell us about Worcester?

They can really turn it on at will and they had little respect for Brunel.

They were sloppy and lackadaisical, racking up double figures in turnovers in the first half and barely acknowledging Brunel’s presence.

It played out similar to the Northumbria v LSBU game, with Brunel guards T. Aryee and M. Byrd very active and with Worcester showing little sign of the threat they pose. Yet at the end of the 1st Worcester were up 16-9 and it never got any closer.

Worcester came out with a slightly heightened sense of urgency in the 2nd quarter and established a rhythm on offense with their big men linking up well. Brunel was reduced to a completely scoreless 10 minutes despite getting several good looks. The abundant difference in class was evident.

In the second half, Luke Sander, Stoukas and Callum Jones took the game to Brunel who never surrendered. Not that it mattered.

Sympathy should go to Byrd, who was a real spark for Brunel. He was penetrating at will but failing to convert around the basket.

 

GAME 4: LEEDS MET 69 – 85 OXFORD

With all 3 previous games providing an all too familiar narrative, this was very welcome.

Neither team hesitated in getting into their lengthy strides and Albert Margay lead Leeds to a quick lead with 10 points in the 1st quarter. Danley and Douchette appeared instrumental in Oxford’s approach, banging inside from the start and matching Leeds Met’s expected intensity.

Oxford Point, Pouvs (sp?) tore Leeds apart in the second, who sought to apply pressure on the tricky guard who took it in his stride.

Danley, who was causing all kinds of problems inside for Leeds, went to the training room with 4:41 left in the 2nd with an ankle injury, and the advantage appeared to shift back to Leeds. But Oxford showed no sign of retracting the confidence they’d built up and Bauza, Douchette and Vaivars secured a strong finish to the quarter with a 10 point swing. They lead 42-34 at the half.

The continuity of the 3rd quarter was ruined by 3 referees who seemed determined to outdo each other with ridiculous calls. Refereeing is harder than it looks, and it looks pretty tricky, but these guys were on a mission to baffle. While serious body checks were going unnoticed, and tit for tat slaps being called, the quarter also saw 2 players given technicals for flopping.

It was a confusing period and unfortunately distracted from the quality on display, particularly from Adrian Fenyn, Leeds and Will Scott, Oxford.

Fenyn continued to impress in the 4th, with Danley and Douchette reluctant to match his physicality due to their foul trouble and Oxford’s lead was trembling. But a strong finish by Scott, who played out of his skin in the second half, Douchette and Danley, Oxford had enough to see off the reigning champions.

Although Leeds Coach Matt Newby was noticeably irate with the loss (ripping his tie off in the dying minutes), he can take some comfort in the fact that the L came against the most impressive team of the first day and serious contenders for the number 1 spot.

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