By Justin Cheuk
Premiership basketball at Durham resumed last weekend, with the matchday’s most high-profile clash between leaders Mary’s and third-placed Ustinov B.
With only one defeat (against their sister team) to their name, a defeat of the previously-unbeaten St Mary’s would all but ensure the championship title returning to Ustinov once more.
Perhaps displaying some signs of rust, both teams struggled to score at the early stages, yet soon afterwards St Marys’ drive-and-dish game began to heat up as they raced into a 19-9 lead. However, the game took a dramatic turn midway through the second quarter, when St Marys’ star forward was injured and had to sit out the remainder of the game.
Without their primary scorer, Marys’ early offensive impetus disappeared as the game descened into a highly physical and rough defensive contest. Fouls were called multiple times on almost every possession, and both teams did not hesitate to vent their anger and frustration at each other.
Fortunately, they managed to restrain themselves and no further trouble occurred. The highlight of the quarter was rightfully reserved by a behind-the-halfway-line three pointer from Ustinov to only trail by seven at halftime.
The second half was played out in a similar fashion and the whistle was again heard very frequently. While scoring continued to be difficult, St Mary’s took advantage for a few fast-break plays to establish a lead late in the game.
Ustinov countered with two late three-pointers to give themselves a last chance to tie, but ultimately it was too late as St Mary’s dribbled out to close the game, winning 29-26.
As it stands, St Mary’s and Ustinov A (who comfortably defeated Grey) remained the two undefeated sides. Their meeting on 22nd next month is likely the championship decider.
Photograph: Emma Werner