In this Goliath vs Goliath match between the top two giants in the Premier South Basketball League it was UEL who came out on top against Oxford with a 66-62 victory on Big Blue Wednesday. Big Blue Wednesday is an annual day to celebrate UELSports as a whole.
The first quarter got off to an electric start, fast-paced and end-to-end. Both teams going hell for leather in the top of the table clash. In the opening few minutes it was the visitors who led 9-2 before Alex Williamson of UEL came up with a sensational slam dunk to keep UEL fresh on the heels of Oxford. Half way through the first quarter T/O was called with Oxford leading 14-9, and whatever Joshua Tackie, the new seasons coach taking over from Jonathon Campbell, said to them seemed to fire up UEL. The home side were straight on the front foot, Oxford were taken back by this and started clocking up their foul count, however despite being on the front foot UEL couldn’t seem to take advantage by missing a few free-throws. With less than two minutes to go another T/O was called with Oxford leading by three points 22-19. After the brief pause UEL got to within four points with the buzzer went. The first quarter ending 25-21 in Oxford’s favour.
UEL started the stronger in the second quarter, that man Williamson dunking once more in the opening seconds. UEL capitalising on their start and pressure by going in to the lead a few minutes in, 29-25. UEL continued a strong offence and solid defence by introducing Kevin Moyo and Tim Shodipo, both being instigators in UEL’s lead by the half way mark, 34-30. At this point it looked like UEL were in full control scoring a further four points whilst also conceding the same amount. In the final minute of the quarter Oxford almost got on level terms, however such is the game of basketball, the momentum shifted to UEL again, leading the second placed team by four points. The second quarter ending 42-38 in UEL’s favour.
After a brief break in-between the third quarter started off even. The break seemed to disrupt both teams rhythm. However after a few minutes we go a flurry of scores, UEL now ahead 46-44, the third quarter became tight quickly. This was optimised by the score at the first T/O a minute later, the scores even for the first time in the game, 46 points apiece. Once more tactical changes ran through Tackie’s team. It seemed to do the trick for a couple of minutes his side pulling three points ahead before another T/O. It seemed to be a tactile time-out to upset UEL’s rhythm, but unfortunately for Oxford that didn’t work straight away. With three minutes remaining UEL lead 51 points to 48. Although a hectic final couple of minutes meant that the scores were level at the end of the third quarter, ending 51-51.
UEL once again started the stronger in the fourth quarter, leading Oxford by two points prior to the first T/O of the quarter three minutes in, 55-53. Both coaches trying to keep their team focused, players looking slightly tired in a physically demanding game. By the half way mark in the final quarter the difference between the two sides was still close at 58-55. However Oxford continued to foul UEL players, the Oxford coach making his feelings of frustration known to referees and players alike. An intense couple of minutes ensued for both sides with two minutes to go in the quarter, both sides scoring vital points, 64-59. In the final minute UEL continued the tempo and managed to get a little further ahead before a brief fightback by Oxford prior to the buzzer. UEL ending the game with 66 points, their opponents 62 points. A very tight game throughout but the slightly stronger team won on the day.
The victory puts UEL in a great position to retain the League title for the third year in a row. Next up for UEL are away to Brunel, where they could win the league.
By Adam Payne