With diversions in force at the Sports Centre (as redevelopment gets underway), a long queue of students was forming from the make-shift reception, stretching back into the cold night. Did this constitute the throng of fans who promised to descend to support? A Facebook event had suggested the numbers flocking to the Women’s basketball game would peak at around 60. The hype was building.
The Women’s 1st team have, by all accounts, enjoyed a storming start to the season. They have secured a comfortable lead at the top of BUCS 1A, winning all six of this season’s games and second-placed team Robert Gordon University are 9 points adrift. With their successful record against this Glasgow University side (they won 63-49 against them in November), it would be easy for the team to become complacent. But team captain, Amy Kirkhouse, remained grounded and maintained that the team was focused for this match-up.
Upon entering the gym, an atmosphere of team-spirit and camaraderie was exuded. The music was blaring and the warm-up was underway… yet, the Saints looked calm and professional. They performed their warm-up shuttles in sync and their constant encouragement during their pre-match drills, must have been intimidating for the travelling team.
After gathering for some final motivation from their coaches, the starting five took to the floor with a quiet confidence. Despite winning possession at the tip, it was a nervous start, as Glasgow looked to apply pressure defensively. However, this early game anxiety was soon dispelled and the Saints took to their stride. Katie Dickerson was important in the early minutes of the quarter, getting some crucial baskets and igniting the offence on the floor. The home team was noisy – the calls for “defence” and “hustle” were echoing around the hall. With each time-out, the Glasgow side slumped back to their coach defeated; how could they end this onslaught? A buzzer shot from Paige Onouye ended the quarter and first blood went to the Saints, with the score 18-8.
A steady stream of supporters continued to file in, intrigued by the action that was unfolding (and rightly so). Despite Glasgow’s attempts to restrain them with man-to-man defence, the Saints exploded in the 2nd quarter. The intensity which they were able to sustain was astounding, they were first to rebound and then, they transitioned to attack. Perhaps, what was most striking was the teamwork and fluidity with which they played. Each girl on the court contributed something to the game and that made it all the more exciting to watch. At the end of the 2nd Quarter, the score was 37-18. The Saints were cruising comfortably to victory with a 19 point margin. Could anyone stop these girls?
It may have seemed as though the game was over and victory resided with the home team. But the third quarter announced a different story as a revived Glasgow side attempted a comeback, cutting the deficit to 13 points. But with some strategic time-outs, the girls continued to battle and made some vital shots which ensured they stayed ahead and in control. With a crowd of around 33 on the sidelines, they had provided an entertaining show. The game was enjoyed, and most importantly, the girls’ talent and skill was applauded.
The players had left everything on the court. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, they may have lacked some of the energy and creatively they had previously displayed. But this was forgiven, as the tiredness of maintaining such a high level began to take its toll. With 3 minutes to go, there was a huge disparity between both teams reflected in the scoreline, 63-44. This afforded the Saints some leeway, allowing them to perfect their plays and run-down the clock. There was a last minute flurry of substitutions, which permitted the players remaining on the bench to get some coveted playing time. The final buzzer echoed around the hall, ending a thrilling game and confirming victory for the Saints, 68-50.
Captain Amy reflected on the importance of this game and admitted the team’s goal is nothing less than to strive to maintain their unbeaten run for the whole season. “All the girls played so well, it was a real team win, and the support from our bench and the sidelines was fantastic. We’ve had a great year so far with such a hardworking team and an amazingly committed coach, Callum Knox. We hope that it will only get better.”
In truth, if you are looking for an exemplar of team-effort, commitment and support, look no further than the Women’s basketball team. Their determination to continue their unbeaten season and to finish as leaders of BUCS Division 1 is testament to their hard-work and committed attitudes. They continue to prepare for their trophy game against Loughborough 2’s on the 18th February