Trinity Meteors dispatched of Tipperary Knights in a 88-81 victory in the Sport Hall yesterday, as they returned to action in Division 1 of the Women’s Basketball League following their semi-final cup win last weekend.
Trinity showed their technical superiority throughout the tie, but the physicality of the Tipperary side kept them in contention until the dying moments. Once again, controlled performances from Lauren Grigsby and Edel Thornton were key in Trinity’s eighth league win of the season.
Tipperary’s Courtney Michelle Strait opened the scoring with an early lay-up, but from then Trinity took control of the first quarter. Sarah Kenny dropped in a three-pointer after linking with Grigsby and Katie Kilbride, before Kilbride added two of her own in a quickfire response.
Trinity tightened their grip as the quarter wore on: Carolyn Binder intercepted a pass mid-court before zipping the ball up-court. She finished the move she started, sinking for two when the ball came back to her just inside the key.
Tipperary lacked quality in their passing and shooting game early on. Despite this, they stayed in touch with the hosts: some sloppy Meteors play allowed Jessica Quirke to set up Strait, with the latter’s lay-up making it 13-11.
A number of converted free throws from Grigsby kept the scoreboard ticking over for the hosts, but Tipperary managed to muscle their way into lead as the quarter came to a close. Scores from Strait and Emma Carey ensured the visitors held a 20-19 lead at the end of the period.
Trinity were still in second gear when the second quarter began, but Grigsby’s dominance in the danger zone put them in front again soon after the restart.
Thornton re-entered play after a break on the bench and spearheaded the attack: working the ball along the three-point line, she drove through the lane and made the lay-up with ease. She made a burst soon after, but was impeded by the physical Tipperary defence.
The quarter wore on with both sides exchanging scores tit-for-tat. Trinity finished the stronger, however, with Grigsby and Thornton the at centre of the action as Trinity took a 10-point lead into the third.
Meteors had found their feet by the third quarter. Now flicking the ball about with fluidity, they looked to pull away from the away side. Mid-way through the quarter the score stood at 60-49, with Jane Daly and Eimear Mairtin getting in on the scoring action for the hosts.
Rosie Tobin was central in a Tipperary resurgence towards the end of the third. She caused problems under the basket for Trinity, and her free throws whittled away their lead.
A scoring drought was cause for concern for Trinity, with Rachel Rice eventually breaking a four-minute dry spell with a reverse lay-up. Scores from Tipperary’s Carey and Tobin kept the visitors’ challenge going, however, and at the end of the period there was only six between the sides – 62-56.
Carey also opened the scoring in the final quarter, after collecting a long-distance pass. With four in it, all of a sudden the game was in the balance again.
Grigsby was the leader for Trinity as they looked to consolidate their narrow lead. In one of the scores of the match, she burst through the lane and jumped to make the lay-up off the glass. She landed another two moments later.
Thornton followed Grigsby’s lead. She made a layup and almost had another two directly after: feigning to pass left, she dodged right and created the space for a shot that licked the rim.
But with the game still in the balance, Trinity began showing signs of indiscipline, and a number of free throws threw the Knights a lifeline. Carey was clinical in dispatching the set pieces, leaving just four in it again approaching the mid-way point of the period.
But again Grigsby came up big when Trinity needed her most, sinking two free throws to settle nerves on the home bench. She was also critical in defence as her side fought off a would-be response from the visitors. Kenny popped up with a number of important scores from her favoured baseline position as Trinity finally managed to put daylight between the sides.
Thornton controlled proceedings as the clock ran down. She was left visibly upset after repeated fouling from the Tipperary defence, but came back stronger and knocked down the resulting free throws. With the away side running out of ideas, the point-guard added two more from the free-throw line to see out the 88-81 win.
Speaking to The University Times after the tie, top scorer of the match, Grigsby said: “It was a tough win for sure. We started out quicker and upbeat, and then we slowed down a bit, but in the end we found a way to come together as a team, get back on defence and I think that’s what ultimately won us the game.”
Looking ahead to Trinity’s National Cup Division 1 final next weekend, she said: “I’m excited – I’ve never been to a cup. I know the team’s excited, we’re just going to come together and give it all we got.”
Trinity laboured over this result, but the manner in which they closed out the encounter will inspire confidence as they head into their biggest game of the season next weekend against Portlaoise. With Grigsby, Kenny and Thornton all hitting superb form at the right time, they’ll fancy their chances when they take to the court in Tallaght on Sunday next.