UEL men’s basketball dominant on Premier League debut
- Credit: Archant
Essex native Leigh Greenan leads way in rout
Captain Dougie Bennett and his teammates walked onto the court at SportsDock last night as members of the BUCS South Premier basketball league for the first time in the history of UEL.
And they made an instant impression with a stunning 104-50 win over University College London (UCL).
Now entering its fifth year, the UEL team has been promoted at the end of every season, and after the 2013-14 campaign they were promoted to the highest level of British university basketball.
“I think they were more excited than I was,” said head coach Jonathan Campbell. “I think I was more nervous than excited. Because we’ve got a lot of people returning, they’re very confident for this year.”
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Being in the top league is not enough for the team to be satisfied, though. Bennett says the team’s goal is to “win it all.”
“[We want to] definitely win the Premier South, get to the final eights, which are at UEL, which gives us a massive advantage,” Bennett said.
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“Get far in the semi-finals, finals – just do everything we can, really. I think we’ve got all the weapons that we need on offense and defence to win the whole thing.”
The East London squad had gone undefeated in last year’s romp to the title and started strongly against UCL, although the opening minutes of the game were quite close.
UEL scored first when Essex native Leigh Greenan drove to the basket and was fouled whilst completing a lay-up. Greenan hit the free throw for the three-point play.
Both teams injected energy into the home team fans that filled SportsDock by exchanging several three-pointers, with Bennett hitting two for UEL as East London led 20-16 in the seventh minute.
“[Bennett] made some jump shots early, got us really into a rhythm,” Campbell said. “And that helped massively.”
UEL’s defence then shut out UCL for the rest of the first quarter, and the hosts led 30-16 at the first break.
Bennett sat out much of the second quarter and UEL’s tempo initially slowed slightly without his leadership.
But UEL pulled out to an 82-40 lead after three quarters of play when Greenan and Lukas Winesgarner, the giants of the East London squad, began to use their size to dominate UCL under the basket.
Greenan, the six foor 11 inch man from Colchester, threw down two massive dunks in the third period to roars of approval from the crowd.
Greenan led the team with 21 points, including three three-point plays, and Campbell said size played a large role in the game for UEL.
“Definitely size,” Campbell said. “I think we’re a little bit more athletic. We just make our jump shots and lay-ups, and that’s it really.”
The UEL defence distinguished itself in the second half as well, holding UCL to just six points in the third quarter and 10 points in the fourth.
UCL never reached 20 points in a quarter, while East London never scored less than 22, the total they put up in the final quarter.
Trent Reeves punctuated UEL’s offensive onslaught late in the game, swishing in a three-pointer for UEL’s hundredth point as they claimed their first top-flight victory.
“Really good game,” Bennett said. “Got over a hundred points, kept them under fifty. [We’re a] bigger team than them, got lots of points inside [the paint].
“Running on the fast break towards the end, we made it work. Everyone played as a team. We trusted each other. It worked out amazing.”
UEL will look to continue their premier league winning streak next Wednesday against London South Bank University at the LSBU Sports Centre at 4pm.