Trinity Meteors narrowly overcame the Phoenix Rockets in the final home match of their debut season in College, triumphing 73-69 in a tight game to stay second in the Northern Conference of Division 1.
Despite a bright offensive start, the home side struggled to gain control of the game, as the Rockets’ speed on the fastbreak and centre Amanda Fiorvanti’s strength in the paint powered the visitors to an early lead. Simone Hobdy opened Trinity’s account with three consecutive buckets, but the Meteors’ inability to keep Fiorvanti and Amber Deane away from the rim quickly led to a nine-point deficit in the first quarter.
Scoring came almost entirely from the interior, with the first three-pointer coming from Sarah Kenny late in the first. Quick long-range passes from the Rockets led to fastbreak points, which Deane comfortably converted. Rebecca Rabeiro’s physical defence was crucial in minimising the damage done by Phoenix’s rapid offensive game, picking up two steals in a single possession as the first quarter drew to a close and ensuring that the score was only 15-25 at the break.
Trinity looked much sharper coming into the second quarter, with Susan Fogarty picking up and converting an and one. Fiona Meany added another two points from the charity stripe. Deane continued to pick up points driving to the rim around Trinity’s interior defence, but baskets from Kenny and Katie Kilbride managed to make it a one-possession game early in the second quarter. The Rockets were slow to adapt to the home side’s double teaming of their star players, but the Meteors’ hot offensive streak came to an end just as they had a full handle on the visitors. A layup from Rebecca Barker extended the Rockets lead, before Deane added a number of long two-point attempts to bring the score to 35-44 at the buzzer.
Switching to a full-court press, the Meteors began to chip away at the lead they had given up in the second half. Having found a way to stop Fiorvanti in the paint, Rabeiro and Hobdy led the defensive effort on the other end of the court, tipping passes and putting pressure on the Rockets backcourt. Steals deep in the Rockets’ half led to a number of easy layups for Hobdy and Fogarty, and before long the Rockets’ lead was down to just three points again, the score at 45-48 after a mid-range jumper from Kenny found its way to the net.
A three-pointer from Eimear Mairtin was quickly followed up with an equalising bucket from Fogarty off of Mairtin’s rebound. Kilbride put the home team up by two points before Barker was forced off the floor with an injury after a struggle for a loose ball with Hobdy. A final buzzer-beater from Hobdy put Trinity up 56-53 going into the final quarter.
Every possession counted in this single-score game, and the Rockets came out strong in the final quarter. Sinead Smye pump-faked her way to the first points of the quarter, before Deane scored off an athletic rebound to put the Rockets up by a point. But, coming out of their timeout, Meteors regained their narrow lead with points from Kenny, before Meany muscled her way to the rim off a quick break. For the visitors, Smye kept things close midway through the quarter with her shooting range and lockdown defence, before her side hit the bonus and made it 66-67 through Deane’s free throws. Two back-to-back three-pointers from Rabeiro forced the Rockets to intentionally foul, but Fogarty scored with 13 seconds on the clock to make the score 73-69 and all but end the match.
The Meteors will be tested by the team at the top of the Southern Conference away next week as they face the unbeaten Maree. Still in the running to finish top of their conference, the Trinity side will be hoping to pick up a valuable win before taking on the Portlaoise Panthers who, with eight wins in 10 games, will offer a stern test in their final game of the season.