UCD Marian 70

Neptune 64

UCD Marian grinded out a deserved Nivea Superleague win against Cork side Neptune in front of a packed and raucous home crowd at the UCD Sports Centre on Saturday night. It was a game where Marian probably should have been out of sight long before two 4-0 runs late in the 4th quarter, and inspired by American recruit John Galvin, try ensured their first victory of the season after narrowly going down away to Killester last week.

A frantic opening saw Neptune came out of the traps quicker, find racing into a 5-0 lead with American forward Darren Townes prominent from the high post and the veteran backcourt Michael McGinn penetrating the UCD defense. Marian upped their intensity for the remainder of the quarter however. Conor Meany and Galvin helped to settle them into the game; with the 6’10 Galvin drawing a lot of fouls and a foreboding presence on the offensive glass in a physical mismatch against 6’7 Neptune centre Mateusz Rudak. Kevin Foley provided a spark off the bench with 5 quick points and captain for the day Daniel James had a floater to beat the first quarter buzzer leaving the score 20-15.

The two Americans on show carried their respective teams offensively in the second quarter with Townes showcasing his inside and outside game chipping in with 10 points while Galvin continued his aggressive post play with 8. New Marian Coach Sasa Punosevac has said he wants his team to be based on defense so will not have been overly pleased with Ger Noonan taking two trips to the free throw line, but Barry Drumm hit the first three-pointer of the game for Marian to close the half at 35-32.

The third quarter was particularly cagey and saw Neptune make their greatest run at UCD despite Townes having to be benched for getting into foul trouble. Ian McLaughlin and Mateusz Rudak made contributions to a more balanced offense but free throw shooting from Conor Meany and Galvin, in addition to greater team defense led by Kevin Foley, keeping the Cork side at bay, 49-48.

The fourth quarter was the highest scoring for Marian. A big 3 from Conor James at the shot clock expired lifted the nervy home crowd, and despite Ger Noonan coming up clutch offensively Marian continued to find answers when they were needed. Liam Conroy came into the game as did Matt Kelly, whose composure and intensity frustrated a desperate Neptune full court press. The Cork side gambled and threw Darren Townes back on with only 1 more personal foul to give- a decision that didn’t pay off for Coach Mark Scanell as he needlessly fouled out with 6 minutes remaining. The streaky shooter bowed out with 15 points.

Thereafter the Neptune challenge wilted. UCD upped their intensity in transition and the aforementioned 4-0 runs in quick succession finally put them out of sight. Ger Noonan fouled out with time almost expired, the final nail the coffin for a defiant but limited Neptune team.

The Sports Centre continues to be something of a fortress for UCD, and with game MVP John Galvin putting up monstrous numbers in a 26 point 21 rebound night, Coach Sasa Punosevac has found a go-to presence in the frontcourt to build an offense around. Matt Kelly almost treated himself to a double-double in a 10 point 9 rebound effort while Dan James finished with 10 points and 6 rebounds. Next up for Marian is a trip to the National Basketball Arena this Friday to face Dublin Inter.