Portlaoise Panthers ladies travelled West on Saturday evening in search of a massive win to keep them on top of the table but came up against a fantastic NUIG Mystics side who themselves needed the win to keep their own push for top spot on track.
LADIES NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION 1
Portlaoise Panthers 47
NUIG Mystics 73
Mystics upped the intensity in the second half to pull away from Panthers to give them a twenty six point win and a better win ratio over the Portlaoise girls.
Mystics got off to a great start with a score off the first offence from Carol Mc Carthy while settling into a 3-2 zone defence to counteract Portlaoise’s outside threat. Portlaoise were getting great options early on and eventually got into the game with excellent play inside from Sharon Melia and Tracey Fallon.
The Mystics kept the pressure on both ends of the floor and finished the quarter strongly with their American Gretchen Gaskin hitting two big shots from outside to give her side a seven point advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter started at a frantic pace with Portlaoise pushing the ball at every opportunity. Sinead Melia took advantage of the space afforded to her by draining a three pointer followed by another two baskets on the break.
At the other end Panthers were coping well with Mystics outside threat but unfortunately Neasa O’Keeffe was causing problems inside the key. The game was highly entertaining with both sides trading score for score.
As Portlaoise began to close the gap before the half time buzzer upped stepped Gaskin again to drain another two long range two pointers under pressure to keep their seven point lead at the break. The Panthers ladies were disappointed as their hard work had failed to make inroads on the Mystics lead.
With the game still in the balance Portlaoise needed to up the intensity in defence while keeping the scoreboard ticking over. Mystics had other ideas and began to cause damage in offence, both inside and outside, edging further in front despite Portlaoise still playing well.
A three pointer from Maeve O’Sullivan and the introduction of Holli and Megan Dunne gave Panthers a new lease of life finishing the quarter. But Mystics had pulled twenty one points ahead with a number of fast breaks following poor turnovers to take the game all but out of reach.
Portlaoise were not going to lie down and came out with the determination to cut the deficit early and see how much pressure they could put on the home side.
A quick three pointer from Megan Dunne off the first offence was the perfect start. But as with every good move throughout the game for Portlaoise, Mystics were quick to respond with a three pointer of their own.
Further baskets from Tracey Fallon, Sinead Melia and Holli Dunne was not enough to threaten Mystics lead and they ran out deserved winners on this occasion.
Portlaoise must now leave this game behind them as they take on Tralee Imperials at home on Saturday night in St.Marys Hall in the hope of maintaining their unbeaten home league form. Panthers will be looking to avenge their defeat in Tralee before Christmas and would be hoping that the atmosphere will be as good as in previous home games to date.
Portlaoise Panthers Team: Megan Dunne, Grainne Tomlinson, Maeve O’Sullivan, Deirdre Tomlinson, Tracey Fallon, Sinead Melia, Holli Dunne, Catherine O’Sullivan, Karen O’Sullivan, Sharon Melia.