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Ton-up for UEL's defending champions

PUBLISHED: 08:30 16 October 2015 | UPDATED: 08:54 16 October 2015

Blayne Freckleton atacks for the basket for UEL against Bath

Blayne Freckleton atacks for the basket for UEL against Bath

Archant

Big third quarter proves key

The University of East London men’s basketball team overcame a sluggish first half to open their BUCS South Premier title defence with a convincing 104-66 win over Bath University at the UEL SportsDock.

The East Londoners, who went undefeated last season, came into the match with a changed line up, with big men Leigh Greenan and Lukas Winegarner just two of several players to leave the team during the off-season.

Lamar Roberts was called upon to take Greenan’s place as starting centre and scored a lay-up and converted a free throw to start the match, but got into foul trouble and had to sit out much of the first half.

Bath proved tough early on and hung close to the champions, but with the score tied at 10-10, UEL captain Dougie Bennett sank three straight three-pointers to give his side some breathing space.

UEL led 28-21 after the first quarter, but the second quarter was won by the visitors as Bennett, who fractured his ankle during the BUCS Final 8s in March, tweaked his ankle and sat out the rest of the match as a precaution.

Bennett said after the match that his ankle was not a cause for concern, but Bath took advantage of the captain’s absence and pulled to within three points by the end of the half.

In the third quarter, UEL finally found their stride as London Lions player Blayne Freckleton knocked down a trio of three-pointers and UEL outscored Bath 36-8 in the quarter.

UEL eased their way through the final period of play and the returning Roberts finished a lay-up to give UEL their 100th point and punctuated the match with a slam dunk.

But head coach Jonathan Campbell was not satisfied with his team’s 38-point win and said: “We played poorly. The first half wasn’t good enough, the second half was better.

“I think the fact we made jump shots got us out of a hole. I thought we were lucky to make a few threes. Blayne stepped up in the second half. But overall, we’ve got to play better to beat other teams in this league, and that first half could cost us games.”

Bennett also saw room for improvement, adding: “We got it down in the end, but it wasn’t very good. Defensively we were lacklustre. We left the middle wide open and they were scoring far too many lay-ups.

“Second half we tightened up a little bit and we defended better. We kept them outside the lanes and made them shoot over the top of us. That really wasn’t one of their strengths, so in the end we got it done.

“Offensively we played well. If we hit our shots we’re hard to stop and that’s what we’ve done. We made 16 three-pointers. Everyone shot good.”

UEL take to the road next Wednesday to play Southampton Solent at 2pm.

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