NUIG Mystics were just edged out by women's senior cup cup holders Portlaoise Panthers in a thrilling 77-74 women's semi-final on Sunday.
A gripping contest from start to finish, NUIG, with Ailish O’Reilly, Nicole Krusen and captain Lauren Murray to the fore, led 24-17 at the buzzer.
The second quarter produced more end-to-end basketball. Four minutes from the end, Panthers stole into a three-point lead, but NUIG ended the half ahead with O’Reilly and Krusen ensuring they took a slender 42-43 lead into the break.
The lead changed hands on several occasions in the third quarter as the teams battled for supremacy. Sinead Melia pushed Panthers ahead before the outstanding O’Reilly grabbed the lead back for her side midway through the quarter.
The teams continued to trade scores and it looked as if they were about to head into the final quarter all square until Catherine O’Sullivan drained a big three pointer to give Panthers a 61-58 advantage going into the fourth.
A pair of huge threes from sisters Catherine and Maeve O’Sullivan gave the Laois women some breathing space, but NUIG fought back. With just under three minutes left they had reduced the margin to a single point, but that was as close as they would get.
NUIG Mystics top scorers: Ailish O’Relly 28, Nicole Krusen 23, Lauren Murray 7.