The 2011-2012 league winners, Brunel University, are the nemesis of the University of Sussex’s women’s basketball team.
Last year Brunel triumphed on both occasions, winning by 58 and 17 points respectively, and this year the team were determined to put a stop to the defeats. After reaching the semi-finals of the BUCS championship competition in 2011-2012, Sussex is ranked number one team in the South East. We are certainly no push overs and we were adamant that Brunel were not going to win this time!
Brunel brought a small squad of only 8, but amongst them there were two players that were previously big thorns in our sides, and the returning members of the team were very aware of the danger posed. Our coach, Ben Foster, outlined the game plan before tip-off and we got off to a very good start, with point guard Rachele Megna (a point guard is charged with setting the pace of the team’s offense and is depended upon for picking out the right passes – much like a playmaker or quarterback) controlling the pace of the game, scoring fast break lay ups (a move where a player is running at full speed but is able to gently throw the ball through the basket) and causing major problems for the Brunel defense.
With the speed of Rachele and Luiza Selisteanu dominating the high post and our shooters converting a high percentage of shots, Sussex were on top offensively. As usual, our defense was also strong, with Kathleen Hamon, Rosie James, Maïté Baumbach and Liz Schofield ensuring Brunel’s danger players were shut down, so that Sussex were up 23-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Sussex continued to stamp their dominance on the game in the second quarter, with great intensity and energy on both offense and defense. At the end of the first half Sussex were up 38-24, with the stand-out performance coming from shooter Alyssa Reinhart who scored three 3 point shots in the half (a basket scored from outside of the three point line – the semi-circle around each basket). However, experience has taught us that even a fourteen point lead isn’t adequate against such accomplished opposition, so we knew we had to remain focused for the duration of the second half.
As expected, Brunel started the half strongly, punishing the few mistakes Sussex made, and closing the gap to just nine points. We knew we were in for a close game. We adjusted our defense accordingly, to prevent Brunel’s fast break attack, and adapted our offense when the tiring Brunel switched from man-to-man to zone defense, but Brunel out-scored Sussex in the third quarter with 20 points to our 16, meaning that the scores were 54-44 to Sussex at the end of that period.
With only ten minutes of regulation time remaining, it was going to be a tense final quarter for Sussex. However, sharp-shooter Steph Neiertz scored eleven points in a row (one 2 point shot and three 3 point shots) without reply to seal the game for the home side. The final score was Sussex 65-52 Brunel. We can most definitely say we’ve quashed our ‘Brunel demons’ with that very convincing win over last year’s league winners and now look ahead to playing newly promoted London Met next week.