Moycullen’s Super League basketballers were unfortunate not to have secured their third win in as many games when losing 66-77 to an efficient UCD Marian.
Despite a strong home performance overall, Moycullen came up against a UCD Marian side that was able to close out a game that could have easily gone the other way.
In the first quarter, the starting players on both teams were slow to get things moving offensively, so it was left to the bench players to ignite the game.
Moycullen youngster James Conaire had his best senior game of the season, chipping in five early points coming off the bench, while also holding his own defensively against some of UCD’s seasoned players.
At the end of a low-scoring quarter for both teams, Moycullen trailed by the narrowest of margins, 15 - 14.
In the second, Moycullen continued to get some solid minutes, and some key offensive rebounding from players such as Conaire and Josh Marvesely, and the extra possessions these rebounds generated facilitated some long-range scores from Paddy Lyons, Joseph Tummon and Grant Olsson.
UCD, though, were also shooting well from distance, and a late three-pointer from Jamie Muldowney upped the Dubliners lead to five just before the half-time whistle.
Moycullen, however, produced their best in the third quarter, moving the ball well on offence, never rushing things, and never settling for contested shots. Behind the offensive play of Paul Kelly, Daniel Vila and Dylan Cunningham, Moycullen briefly took the lead, but just as Moycullen had begun to gather some momentum, UCD connected on some key late-scores to flip the scoreboard back into their favour entering the final quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Grant Olsson and James Conaire provided the scoring punch for Moycullen; while the UCD ombination of Scott Kinevane and Mariusz Markowicz proved tough for Moycullen to handle defensively.
With nothing between the sides and two minutes remaining, Jamie Muldowney hit another crucial three-point shot, giving UCD the lead to set up a tense final few possessions. But UCD’s solid defence forced Moycullen into taking some low percentage shots and when these shots did not fall, Moycullen had to foul to stop the clock. UCD knocked down each of their final few free throws to put the result to bed.
“Not the result we wanted," said Moycullen coach John Cunningham, "but can’t complain about the performance. We put ourselves in a position to win the game with three minutes to go, but UCD’s defence was such that we just couldn’t find the baskets we needed.
“Unfortunately, with the quality that’s across the board in the league, a good performance often doesn’t get us over the line,” he added.
Moycullen now have a two-week break before they welcome Belfast Star to the NUI Kingfisher on February 1, but Moycullen's U20 side is in action when they travel to the National Basketball Arena for an U20 National Cup final game against UCD Marian on Saturday.
Moycullen: Grant Olsson (18 ), James Conaire (13 ), Dylan Cunningham (10 ), Paul Kelly (8 ), Daniel Vila (6 ), Paddy Lyons (5 ), Joshua Marvesely (4 ), Joseph Tummon, Conor Curran, Kyle Cunningham, Dara Kenna, James Lyons. Coach: John Cunningham