Unlucky break for UEL

A UEL player hangs on the hoop after a dunk at the BUCS Final 8s

A UEL player hangs on the hoop after a dunk at the BUCS Final 8s - Credit: Archant

Basketball squad miss out as captain suffers

Action from the BUCS Final 8s

Action from the BUCS Final 8s - Credit: Archant

It was agony all round for the UEL men’s basketball team at the weekend as they were eliminated from the BUCS Final 8s at the quarter-final stage – and also lost their captain, Dougie Bennett, to a fractured ankle.

Hopes had been high that the team could build on their stellar record in the BUCS Premier South league this season, when they went undefeated in their first year in the top division.

UEL attack at the BUCS Final 8s

UEL attack at the BUCS Final 8s - Credit: Archant

But, despite the bonus of home advantage, the gathering at SportsDock of the country’s eight top university basketball teams proved a disappointment for UEL, who were beaten on Saturday by Durham University, champions of the Premier North league, 76-59.

UEL restored a measure of pride on Sunday by defeating Loughborough 84-76 in the play-offs for losing teams, but not before Bennett, UEL’s Scotland international and team captain, landed awkwardly after completing a shot and fractured his ankle. The match was halted for an hour as Bennett was treated on court before being taken to hospital.

UEL in action at the BUCS Final 8s

UEL in action at the BUCS Final 8s - Credit: Archant

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“The guys picked up the second day and it was a great team performance against Loughborough,” said UEL head coach Jonathan Campbell.

“It was a little bitter-sweet for us as we felt we had not performed to our best the day before, but to see how professional the guys were to pick themselves up and beat a very good team is a credit to them and the strength of character in the team.”

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The victory over Loughborough means UEL finished the season ranked fifth overall in the country.

“It was a great learning experience for us and we hope we will have another chance next year,” added Campbell.

The UEL men’s volleyball first team were also vying for national honours in their corresponding BUCS Final 8s at Bournemouth University.

After comfortable victories over UCL and Cambridge, UEL missed out on a place in the final after suffering a narrow defeat at the hands of Northumbria in the group stage.

It meant they went into the semi-finals instead and, in another closely fought match, UEL were edged out by Sheffield Hallam, last year’s winners, to finish the championships in fourth place overall.

“The UEL men’s team reaching the semi-finals of the BUCS Volleyball Championships makes it the best result in the history of team sports at UEL,” said head coach Tomasz Morawski.

“It’s an improvement from last year’s fifth place and is confirmation of UEL being amongst the top volleyball powers, ready to challenge the most established teams in the UK.”

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