University of Galway Maree 88 Flexachem KCYMS Killorglin 81
Jarrett Haines led the way with 24 points, as Galway secured their place in the InsureMyHouse.ie Pat Duffy Cup quarter-finals with a 88-81 home win over Flexachem KCYMS on Saturday evening.
It was far from a comfortable watch, though defensive stops and clearer late-game execution saw them edge past Killorglin in a contest finely poised at 83-79 with two minutes left.
Slick ball movement was the early indicator of success for Maree in a nip-and-tuck first quarter, hoisting three-pointers aplenty but rightly punished for fouling too much in-and-around the paint.
Haines made consecutive buckets, including one in transition after Flexachem missed a wide open triple to open up a six-point lead.
It became a scrappy, end-to-end affair at Calasanctus College with turnovers and missed shots a recurring theme for both, though Maree were frequently making difficult shots through traffic.
British shooting guard/forward Pharroh Gordon was the visitors’ top scorer with 22 points in 33 minutes, the bulk coming from long-range baskets.
He scored a tough floater to kickstart the second quarter though, and was repeatedly getting fouled as his impact intensified – recording 15 points in five minutes as his teammates fed the hot hand.
Zach Light played limited minutes on his return from a broken nose last month but his defensive tenacity was there to see: a steal and sprint to the basket, with Rodrigo Gomez hammering home a put back dunk after he missed the layup.
Robert Alan Kelly Jr finished with 20 points for KCYMS and scored consecutive baskets to make it a 45-39 half-time score.
Sloppy turnovers and a three-point barrage saw the visitors take a slender lead shortly after the interval, before Aksels Skaistlauks gave them a five-point cushion when a bullet pass was stolen – moments after Maree retrieved possession in the paint themselves.
Gomez showcased his deft passing in the paint and Maree were eventually ahead once more, though it was that man Kelly Jr getting to the foul line as Flexachem sought a rapid response.
He made six of nine free-throws in the contest, and sank a three as they regained a slender advantage. Haines showed great time-management and adaptability to win a trio of free-throws himself after being fouled when attempting his own three with three seconds left in the third.
Gordon popped up with consecutive three-pointers to keep things ticking early in the final quarter, before Joe-Junior Mvuezolo had a blistering burst of his own.
His ball-handling and all-around play meant he was unfazed by opposition players surrounding him as he was clearly in a flow state.
Drilling a corner three right in-front of the opposition bench would’ve done wonders for their team morale during a tricky stretch, especially as Zvonimir Cutuk did the same shortly afterwards.
Just as the game looked to be slipping out of Flexachem’s reach, sloppy turnovers and a few big plays by big man Jani Griffith asked the question.
Would they hold on? He scored on successive possessions before making a key deflection himself, as the lead was cut down to four.
Haines showed active hands to snatch and finish as Aleix Tarradellas had the ball stolen. Kelly Jr relinquished possession after running straight into traffic on the next play, before Eoin Rockall killed the game with a three.
Up next is a return to league action away against Ballincollig and are riding an encouraging wave of form right now. As for the Cup, Belfast Star await them in quarter-final action during the first week of December.
Scorers for University of Galway Maree: Jarett Haines 24, Joe-Junior Mvuezolo 23, Zvonimir Cutuk 15, John Burke 10, Rodrigo Gomez 9, Eoin Rockall 7.
Scorers for Flexachem KCYMS Killorglin: Pharroh Gordon 22, Robert Alan Kelly Jr 20, Aksels Skaistlauks 19, Jani Griffith 11, Aleix Tarradellas 8, Declan Wall 1.
University of Galway Maree:
Starting line-up: Eoin Rockall, Rodrigo Gomez, Jarett Haines, Joe-Junior Mvuezolo, Zvonimir Cutuk.
Bench: Cathal Finn, Ben Burke, John Burke, Malik Thiam, Paul Freeman, Zach Light, Stephen Commins.
Flexachem KCYMS Killorglin:
Starting line-up: Aleix Tarradellas, Robert Alan Kelly Jr, Pharroh Gordon, Aksels Skaistlauks, Jani Griffith.
Bench: Ronan Fitzpatrick, Declan Wall, Eoin Evans, Liam Croke.