LAST week’s Ulster Premier League fixture with Queens University saw the Blackstone register three defeats on the bounce after a 58-50 reverse.
This is a big disappointment for the local basketball team who started the season so well but injury to key players has seen their strong start diminish.
Last Thursday they travelled to the PEC on the Ormeau embankment to suffer a dismal defeat at the hands of Queens Hornets. Lack of a good warm up was the result of a late arrival at the court and this was to cost Blackstone heavily as they shot and missed their first ten attempts.
Coach McKee was pleased with their offensive set play as they worked good patterns and opened their shooters for a disappointing 8 points in the quarter.
In the same fixture last year Blackstone registered 28 points in this opening quarter and ran the game. Last Thursday they could not get out of the blocks and to cap it all they lost leading scorer Martin McDonald with a back injury at the end of the first quarter.
The opening quarter saw the home team run up a 19–8 lead as the superior size difference was to pay dividends for them.
Martin McDonald and Adam Murray struggled to find the net from long range in open shot positions. Michael Murray back after a two game lay off with injury was battling on the rebound s making a significant impact on the defensive end but failed to find his usual accuracy from the baseline shooting positions.
The quarter was to prove costly for the visitors as McDonald came down hard on his back and was unable to continue in the game.
In the second quarter the Blackstone upped the intensity of their defensive game and found some form from distance.
Adam Murray took on the responsibility and shot three then two more on a tough drive to the basket.
Peter McNicholl in the game for the first time was to add some power to the Blackstone back line in defence. He set in for two points from the key side and Dean Hillis grabbed 4 more points on the break as the Blackstone closed the gap to 8 points and outscored their opponents 15–18.
The second half saw Queens extend their lead to 16 points. The Blackstone press caught the opposition on the back foot for a 4 minute spell as McNicholl took advantage of the stolen ball for 6 points without reply.
Michael Murray at last found his scoring touch with two soft sky hooks over the bulk of Kruiper. The momentum was with the visitors but they could not sustain it and they went into the closing quarter still trailing by 8 points.
The fourth quarter was a slog for both teams as the Blackstone turned up their defensive pressure and forced Queens into many errors but they could not capitalise on it at the offensive end.
They cut the deficit to 53-47 as Adam Hillis got in for two points on the drive and shot from long range to score. With the pressing game of the Blackstone came gaps at the back and Queens’ players Henry and McKeown get in for unopposed lay ups.
Michael Murray again found his range from the corner for two and Adam Murray was fouled om the three point line giving him three free shots which he scored to keep the gap at 8 points and another avoidable defeat for the Blackstone team.
This week Blackstone host North Star from Derry on Sunday night at St Patrick’s at 7pm.