On Wednesday October 24, the UTM women’s varsity basketball team faced off in a blazing match against the Redeemer Royals. The starting five consisted of Jade Addai, Janella Viado, Trisha Ann Vo, Jiana Alnajjar, and Pinar Kahraman engaging the Royals head on in the first quarter, where the Royals took the jumpball, as well as the game’s first point. However, the Eagles were quick to catch up and maintain a consistent lead from there on out for the remainder of the game.
The Royals were distinguished throughout by their strong man-to-man defence that prevented the Eagles from getting too close to the net and stick to wider shots from the three-point line.
During this first quarter, the Royals were able to penetrate the Eagles’ defence and consistently get layups. Both sides exhibited considerable enthusiasm through their fast-paced sprints between the nets but ultimately unable to deliver the successful shot. In fact, the first quarter of the game was defined by a lack of follow through on plays and insufficient control of the ball. Despite this game proceeding at a breakneck speed, UTM kept their lead for the majority of the first quarter. The Royals’ real advantage was in their strength as a team, but they were also quick to fall apart when any player strayed too far from the herd or kept possession of the ball for too long. Overall the first quarter was a lukewarm performance with each team starting off slow and settling to an equal struggle with the Eagles up 14-11.
The second quarter, although a formidable victory, was much more of a blur. Pavlik from the Royals got the first score of the quarter with an optimistic 3-pointer although thereon the quarter proved much more of a downhill for the team, where UTM finished on top at 25-18. However, this second quarter was strikingly unfocused than the first with a loss of control of the ball and consequently leading to only a few points for each side. In short, the game settled to a formulaic pattern, where the Royals constantly fumbled with the ball in the paint and missed their shots, leaving UTM to grab the ball and sprint back to the paint before resolving to long shots in the face of a strong defence. The Royals would then take possession and race it back but again managing only to fumble. Each side lacked a focused and sharp execution in this back and forth, leaving a seeming race to only get as many shots at the basket as possible.
Many of these and other weaknesses were rectified in the third quarter, where once again, the Royals got the first point. The Eagles started off with admirable communication between the players, where everyone was talking to each other and passing the ball around. This led to an especially strong ability to retain possession of the ball. Overtime however, the Eagles’ defence got weaker and weaker. Even after a time out by the coach, the Royals were receiving too many opportunities to shoot. This combination of strong offence but a weak defence on both sides led to a close call with UTM still ahead 39-36 at the end of the third quarter.
The last quarter was marked by an especially impressive performance by Addai. Addai started off this crescendo of the game by sinking in a three and punctuating the rest of the quarter with a skill too quick for the Royals to catch on to. Viado also proved herself a formidable point guard, especially in this quarter, through her ability to streamline the plays. The Eagles were also on a streak with an amazing string of successful shots. Their defence was built right back up for this quarter to finish strong as well. The Eagles were looking for each other on the court to make some very strategic passes and dismantle the Royals’ strong defence with stronger communication. Moreover, they were also quite flawless on their rebounds, gaining every opportunity to take possession of the ball. In fact, both teams finished with a considerably high level of energy, stretching the last few minutes to gain a sharp increase in points for both sides. However, the gap between them just moved up, and the Royals were no closer to closing it in the end of the game. The Eagles finished strong at a score of 60-50, marking this their second win of the season.