Moycullen American recruit Patrick Sullivan’s 30 points, including a go-ahead basket with 43.1 seconds left in Double Overtime, eventually separated what was a hugely exciting encounter against UCD Marian on Saturday night at the Sports Centre. Marian went down on a score line of 72-77 in a game where poor free throw shooting in the fourth quarter proved costly for Sasa Punosevac’s team.
Both teams came into the game struggling for form, with Marian fresh from two defeats on the bounce and underdogs Moycullen winless so far this season, and it showed in a cagey first half.
The Westerners targeted an upset and began much the brighter. 9 first quarter points from forward Sullivan and 6 from James O’Brien demonstrated the Moycullen dominance in the paint as UCD struggled defensively. If it wasn’t for four missed three throws from Sullivan, Moycullen could have extended their lead by more as they went in 15-10 at the end of the first.
Moycullen led by as much as 9 in the second quarter as Cian Nihill showed his versatility with outside shooting and transition offense. However an 8-0 run by UCD paved a way back into the game before half time. American John Galvin came into the contest offensively with 8 quick points and Daniel James split the Moycullen half court defense to leave the score at half time 28-24 in Moycullen’s favour.
Much like UCD’s victory at home to Neptune two weeks ago, the game came alive in the third quarter. Marian normally pride themselves in their half court defense when playing at home but uncharacteristically and unforgivably in the eyes of an increasingly animated Coach Punosevac allowed 12 trips to the free throw line for Moycullen in 7 minutes. Luckily for UCD they only converted 6 of these, by Nihill, Sullivan and Stephen Tummon all going 1 for 2. Moycullen had their biggest lead of the night at 46-34 with massive three pointers from captain Salva Camps. 8 quick points from Dan James including back to back three pointers to close the third quarter kept a Marian fight back alive at 50-42.
Buoyed on by a raucous home crowd, the back court pairing of James and Conor Meany inspired a comeback at the start of a frenetic fourth quarter. A 15-3 run, with Meany weighing in with 8 points and James with 7, left UCD up 57-53 with 4 minutes remaining in regulation and the momentum firmly with the home team. However, Marian converted just 5 from 12 attempts at the free throw line including 2 with just 4 seconds left to win the game outright at Moycullen were handed a saving grace in the form of deep threes from O’Sullivan and O’Brien.
As ever, the rarity of an overtime period brought great tension and volume to the Sports Centre. Moycullen Point Guard Salva Camps showed incredible vision to assist Sullivan inside on two occasions with seconds remaining on the shot clock and Cian Nihill bucketed after an offensive rebound to leave the score 68-65. However, a huge step back three from Kevin Foley with 0:!5 left brought the crowd to its feet and forced a second period of overtime, 68-68.
However, UCD ran out of steam in the second period. Sullivan and Camps would have the final scores from the free throw line and see Moycullen win for only the second time at Superleague level, recording their first away victory. Galvin top scored for UCD with 22 points while James added 17 and Foley 12. Sullivan led all scorers with 30 for Moycullen while Tummon chipped in with 12 and O’Brien 10.
Marian take their record on the season to 2-4 and will look to bounce back away to Bord Gais Neptune away in Waterford this weekend.