Despite the sunny weather that graced our coastal town this week, the performance for the Men’s First Basketball team was not quite so sunny. After a hard-fought battle, the boys just couldn’t quite come out on top, losing 53-69 to Strathclyde’s first team.
Currently in fourth place in their BUCS league, they faced third-placed Strathclyde in their latest fixture. Winning would have meant closing the points gap between the two teams, whereas losing the match has increased Strathclyde to 18 points. This puts them joint on points with the first and second placed teams, with St Andrews remaining in fourth place as the season comes to a close.
Within the first seven seconds of the match, Strathclyde had managed to go three points ahead. Following that up with a two-pointer all within the first minute of play – it was evident this was going to be a high scoring game. Two free throws for the Saints gave them the opportunity to catch up on Strathclyde’s early lead. But with the first bouncing out and only the second going in they only managed to take away one point.
Strathclyde didn’t waste any time in moving back up to St Andrews’ end of the court and scoring a two-pointer, further increasing their lead. An attempt by the Saints was intercepted by Strathclyde who managed to make it back into the Saint’s semi-circle, managing to score another four points. Having not even played two minutes, the Saints were already down by 10 points.
A time-out was called and play began again with a Saints ball. Possession was quickly regained by Strathclyde and managing to play the ball into space enabled them to score another two-pointer – 1-13. St Andrews’ try to return an attempt but their shot times out, being unable to claw back some crucial points at this early stage.
Another attempt from Strathclyde earns them another two points, seemingly able to play to St Andrews’ weakness and really expose their empty space. Finally, the Saints managed to have two attempts against Strathclyde, the first scored effortlessly but the second was tipped away for a Strathclyde ball. Play moved back up the court and a foul saw the Saints regain play. Contact from Strathclyde and secured two free throws for the Saints. The first bounced out and the second met a similar fate – an opportunity for a crucial two points missed. However, another shot from the boys saw them gain two points as the end of the first quarter approached. A shot and a rebound from the Saints, neither of which made the basket and play was intercepted by Strathclyde taking the ball up to the other end of the court, earning two free throws in the process. Both of which go in 6-18. It was clear this was an area of strength for the opposition.
As play moved back down into Strathclyde’s semi-circle a shot from the Saints saw them gaining another two points. A lot of end to end play which resulted in points from both teams. A last-second attempt from Strathclyde couldn’t quite make it in and the first quarter finished 11-23. A gap that would be difficult to close.
The second quarter revealed a much more attacking St Andrews, with almost a minute played the ball hadn’t seen much movement outside of Strathclyde’s semi-circle. A two-pointer and two free throws, both scored, saw the points gap closing very early in the second quarter with the score at 15-32. Not for long however as Strathclyde storm back down the court and secure another two points but this didn’t phase the St Andrews boys who followed suit in scoring another two-pointer. After only 90 seconds of the second quarter and already eight points had been scored (six of which coming from St Andrews). Another three-pointer from Strathclyde and their lead increased again. A St Andrews free throw earned them another point, followed almost immediately by a second three-pointer from Strathclyde looking to ensure St Andrews wouldn’t catch up to them. But again the boys responded quickly, back down to the other end of the court to earn another two points.
With just over two minutes to go until the halfway point of the game the score was sitting at 22-35. An initially high scoring quarter was slowing down dramatically with neither team willing to let the other make baskets.
With less than a minute left to play of the second quarter, it was looking as though there were going to be no further points scored with both sides remaining strong defensively. With the Saints winning two free throws and scoring both, they managed to add some late points before the halfway point of the game. The second quarter ended 25-36, a smaller gap than the first but again a tough one to close.
The Saints began the third quarter much the same as the previous after scoring an early three-pointer, followed by another two, and Strathclyde’s lead was dwindling. Now only six points ahead. After only scoring one of the two free throws they were awarded the score was 30-37. Although starting poorly, Strathclyde seemed to improve as the quarter progressed going from 37 to 44 points within a few minutes.
Points from both sides saw the score grow to 37-46. St Andrews being awarded possession saw Strathclyde unhappy with the referee but didn’t cause them any trouble as both St Andrews’ shots were defended. Some strong pressure from both sides and tensions were running high with both sides seeming riled up as a time-out was called with just under two minutes left.
Play resumed with another two Strathclyde free throws, neither of which helped to increase their lead. The Saints used this opportunity to put another two-pointer under their belt and prevent Strathclyde from expanding their lead.
Two free throws for Strathclyde and a further two points quickly followed by two from St Andrews, prevented Strathclyde from opening up the points gap. With less than a minute of the third quarter to go the score was close at 41-50. Points scored on both sides and the third quarter finished 43-51.
The final quarter began with two points for the Saints inside the first 15 seconds but with Strathclyde working hard to ensure they didn’t slip behind, they followed up with a two-pointer. This was followed by some impressive play from the Strathclyde boys, scoring three two-pointers within a matter of seconds and the Saints called for a time out. With not even two minutes played the score was already at 45-59 – this game was full of early points.
It seemed that St Andrews were losing confidence as Strathclyde’s lead increased to 45-63 with the five-minute mark approaching. Another four points for Strathclyde and it was uncertain if St Andrews would take any points in this quarter. After travelling from Strathclyde, the ball moved back into the Saints’ possession and they managed to put another two points onto the board.
Another time-out was called with just under two minutes to go with the score at 49-67, one final attempt to rally the boys. As play resumed, a two-pointer from St Andrews and from Strathclyde and the score was at 51-69.
Just over 30 seconds to play and the Saints manage to put another two-pointer past Strathclyde, but they could do no more as the final buzzer sounded and the game ended 53-69. A tough game in a tough league but thankfully the boys are safe from relegation for the moment.