Basketball: Gritty Eagles show Demons a clean pair of heels to book semi-final spot
UL EAGLES set up a semi-final clash with SuperLeague National Cup champions Killester thanks to a second-half comeback against UCC Demons on Saturday.
The Cork side appeared to be in control at the break with a 44-37 lead, but the southern conference leaders produced a third-quarter fightback to run out 78-70 winners and book their place in the last four. The Eagles' third-quarter dominance earned them a 55-51 lead. The final 15 minutes were fraught with nerves, but despite UCC Demons valiant efforts, the Limerickmen held on to seal victory.
"We really upped our defensive game in the second quarter," Irish international Scott Kinevane said. "We are absolutely delighted to get this win and we now have less than eight weeks to prepare for our biggest test of the season against Killester, who have been the best team in Ireland over the past couple of years."
UCD Marian inflicted more misery on their capital foes DCU Saints after an excellent display saw them book their semi-final place. A week after they ended the Saints' unbeaten run in the league, the southsiders ran out 81-65 winners to ensure their cup dream was over too.
A bright start from Eoin Quill helped DCU to a 17-13 lead at the end of the first quarter but Dan James, who inspired UCD in the second quarter with 13 points, helped turn the tie in their favour after the break. The hosts grabbed control of the contest in the third quarter, rebounding at will under the Saints' boards and capitalising on their second chances. Cathal Finn enjoyed a hugely productive period for UCD, nailing a couple of long shots before the final quarter when UCD punished the Saints from the free-throw line.
Ulster Elks stunned Belfast Star 72-65 yesterday to earn their first-ever last-four spot, where they will face UCD. Star's American Clayton Longmire impressed with some offensive boards and put-backs in the second quarter, while Kevin Foley found his range ensuring Elks retained the lead at the half-time break. The Elks' defence helped maintain their lead in the third quarter with Ben de la Cruz picking up the boards on each possession. The Elks continued to thwart Star before important scores from Ciaran MacEvilly and Patrick McGahran ensured a famous win.
Meanwhile, in the Women's SuperLeague National Cup quarter-finals, DCU Mercy produced an outstanding display to end UL's cup interests, while Team Montenotte Hotel Cork proved too strong for Meteors.