The Shannonsiders got off to the perfect start with a superb Rachael Vanderwal drive to the hoop, but on Killester’s next possession Mimi Clarke drained a superb three-pointer.
However, the Limerick side had more gears to go through and with Rachael Clancy finishing with precision they moved into a 13-9 lead in the fourth minute.
Killester responded to the wake-up call with a blitz and surprisingly forced UL’s star player Vanderwal into three unforced errors. The remaining minutes of the quarter saw both teams struggle to find baskets but UL finished better to lead 19-16 entering the second quarter.
Vanderwal hit a three on the restart but with the Killester American Candace Bond punishing UL at will the Dubliners remained within striking distance. The one minus for Killester was they allowed Vanderwal far too much space in the offence court.
Killester continued to struggle with their shooting but in the closing minutes they hit six unanswered points that brought them back into the game.
Trailing 34-33 with 1.44 remaining to the interval Killester were punished with a Clancy three followed by two free-throws from the same player that restored a six-point lead for the champions at the interval.
Surprisingly, Killester began sluggishly as Vanderwal continued to punish them and when the Great Britain player went coast to coast in the 33rd minute UL led 43-33.
The third quarter was riddled with fouls but UL continued to dominate and commanded a 12-point lead with three minutes remaining.
How Killester failed to shut down Vanderwal and Clancy was amazing as both these players almost single-handily destroyed their National Cup dream.
Trailing 58-50, Killester totally lost the plot and in the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter UL had increased their lead to 69-52.
In the closing minutes it was a case of going through the motions for UL as they ran out deserving winners, much to the delight of coach James Weldon.
“I am over the moon with the performance as many were writing us off after we lost to Montenotte last week [where] we actually played well but happened to come out on the wrong end of an excellent basketball game,” James said.
“We have a goal to win three National Cups and our dream is still alive but we will take it step by step as we have two weeks to prepare for this final.”
Naturally, the mood in the Killester camp was one of disappointment as coach Mark Grennell tried to explain his team’s low key performance.
“Some of our key players didn’t perform but that’s not criticism, just fact, as it can happen in any sport,” Grennell said.
“We were still in the game going into the third quarter but suddenly they blew us out and we had no answers to their scoring power.”
Scorers for UL Huskies: R Vanderwal 26, A McDermott 26, R Clancy 22.
Scorers for Killester: C Bond 23, M Clarke 11, A O’Sullivan 10.
UL HUSKIES: L Galvin, K Fahy, R Clancy, A Danaaher, C Grant, N O’Donovan, R Vanderwal, F Lynch, L Maher, A McDermott, M Brooks.
KILLESTER: A Sullivan, A Maguire, E Stone, A Russell, M Clarke, L Scully, K Gillen, L Pedro, F Ward, L Kinnane, C Bond, A Byrne, C Flaherty.
Referees: M Thornhill (Cork), M Nazimek (Dublin), A Kremenskas (Kerry).