UEL stay on course for South Premier title
- Credit: Archant
BUCS basketball: UEL 88 London South Bank 60
UEL’s Big Blue Wednesday was celebrated in style by the men’s basketball team as they defeated London South Bank in what coach Jonathan Campbell described as “our best performance of the year.”
The match also marked the final regular season game for a group of UEL seniors including Will Ashby, Lukas Volskis, Dougie Bennett, Blayne Freckleton and Lukas Aleksandravicius, who have contributed substantially to the team’s rise to the BUCS South Premier league.
Campbell praised his seniors, saying: “I’m really pleased for them and they’ve been great servants for us. They’ve got a few away games left and hopefully the BUCS Final 8s.”
Against LSBU, the host team fell behind 4-0 early on, but big man Lamar Roberts began dominating in the paint and senior captain Bennett hit an early three-pointer to bring UEL level.
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The two sides battled back and forth for much of the first few minutes and then Ashby swished in a three-pointer to give UEL a 14-11.
LSBU missed two free throws shortly afterwards, and although they did manage to pull to within one a minute later, they would not draw level with UEL for the rest of the match.
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Bennett hit a fadeaway two and was fouled for a three-point play, and then sank another three-pointer to give UEL a 22-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.
UEL’s lead stayed consistent early in the second quarter, although Roberts was on the bench for the first few minutes. When he returned his impact was felt yet again as he scored eight straight points for UEL.
Bennett and London Lions player Freckleton each hit three-pointers and UEL were suddenly ahead by 20 points.
Ashby hit another three and UEL allowed just 10 points from LSBU to take a 44-25 lead into the half-time break.
Coach Campbell said it wasn’t just the big-name players who made a difference with high-scoring performances, adding: “We defended really, really well. That second quarter really broke the game open for us. And it was mostly second unit guys.
“We really found a second unit of guys who went after rebounds and defended really hard. We had some good performances from the bench, which we really needed.”
Roberts went on another scoring spree to open the third quarter, scoring six straight points to give UEL their 50th point.
The domination continued for the East Londoners as they ran away with the match, building up a 71-39 lead at the end of the quarter.
With a 32-point lead, UEL were a bit sluggish offensively at the start of the final quarter, although their defence still shut down LSBU.
Then Bennett came to the forefront again and hit two more threes, scoring a total of nine points in the second part of the quarter as UEL finished with a flourish.
UEL have a one-game lead in the South Premier as they look to defend their title, but with the season finishing with three tough away matches, Campbell isn’t ready to say UEL are favourites yet.
“I feel good,” added Campbell. “But last year it was a very clear target for us to go out and win the league.
“By this time last year we were clearly the best team in the league by a large margin. At the moment this year, we’re taking it one game at a time because the league’s been so much closer. Every game we have to go out and earn the right to win it, which is good for us.”