UCC Demons 68 Bord Gais Neptune 66
UCC Demons had to withstand a magnificent Bord Gais Neptune second half revival before eventually taking maximum points in the Nivea for Men’s SuperLeague clash at the Mardyke Arena last night.
Demons looked home and hosed when commanding a 17 points interval lead but their inept second-half display almost gave their great rivals an unlikely win.
In a rip-roaring opening quarter, both teams went for the jugular but Neptune got the better start mainly through the outside shooting of Ian McLoughlin.
Demons were struggling in defence and when American Darren Townes dunked in the third minute, the Blackpool outfit surged into a 9-2 led.
Gradually Demons began finding their shooting range and with Carleton Cuff driving them forward they reduced the deficit to three points in the seventh minute.
Neptune then lost their shape somewhat and with Niall O’Reilly and Daniel O’Sullivan draining consecutive baskets, Demons surged into a 15-13 lead.
The closing minutes of the quarter were scrappy but Demons held their nerve to lead 20-16 entering the second quarter.
Good defence and poor shooting options became the order of the evening for Neptune on the restart as Demons blitzed them with a flurry of baskets.
Shane Coughlan led by example for Demons and they stretched their lead to 11 points in the 15th minute.
As the quarter matured Neptune struggled to break down Demons defence and their eight-point tally in this period was poor return.
The home side could afford to rest American Kenton Walker for the remaining two minutes to the interval but it made little difference as they had increased their lead to 41-24 at the break.
Credit to Neptune, they tightened up their defence on the restart as Demons completely lost their shape.
In the opening minutes Demons had stretched their lead to 46-26 but a Gary Walsh three-pointer began a Neptune mini-revival.
The home side went into the game missing the injured trio of Ciaran O’Sullivan, Shane Duggan and Niall Murphy and fatigue played a huge part in their dismal second-half performance.
Cuff battled hard against the Neptune American Townes for the majority of the game but the latter finished with a good drive to the hoop that reduced the deficit to 55-41 entering the crucial final period.
Whoever wrote the script of the fourth quarter was not a Demons supporter as Neptune, inspired by Townes ran them ragged, and with 2.41 remaining, the deficit was reduced to 64-62.
The Neptune fans sensed a miraculous recovery before Demons captain Coughlan produced a stunning reverse jump shot that was completed with a bonus point.
Ger Noonan had a quiet game by his standard but he executed two free throws that cut Demons lead to the minimum.
Townes had a chance to win the game before Walker shot a late free throw to complete another magnificent game in this famous Cork rivalry.
UCC Demons scorers: K Walker (19), S Coughlan (18), C Cuff (16)
Neptune scorers: D Townes (24), I McLoughlin (9), G Walsh (6).
UCC DEMONS: S Coughlan, N O’Reilly, K Walker, D O’Sullivan, C Cuff, L O’Mahony, M O’Leary, R Murphy, L Carmody.
BORD GAIS NEPTUNE: G Walsh, M McGinn, S O’Sullivan, I McLoughlin, G Quinlan, G Noonan, J Wilkinson, D Lenihan, D Cronin, P Stapleton, D Dowling, D Townes, M Rudak.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved