University of Galway Maree 68 Cumann Cispheil Mhaigh Cuilinn 46
Zvonimir Cutuk led the way with a new season-high 18 points, as University of Galway Maree never trailed during a dominant Galway Derby victory against bottom side Moycullen on Saturday evening.
Cutuk, who recorded nine points against Ballincollig last weekend, asserted himself early and often with silky moves in the paint and a conscious desire to score through traffic.
Despite not getting any foul calls for his efforts, he didn’t need them. Rapid ball movement featuring Eoin Rockall and Jarett Haines helped open up a 10-4 lead at the 6:42 mark.
Haines’ steal and score in transition typified a suffocating defensive display by the hosts, who led by 11 at the end of the first quarter.
Moycullen missed consecutive three-point shots in the same possession as the game became more open, something which only strengthened Maree’s purposeful start.
Rockall and Stephen Commins displayed good off-ball defence once the visitors aggressively tried to cut the deficit, before Cutuk scored successive triples to give them a 21-11 lead.
That persistent individual defence – cutting off driving lanes and baiting them into difficult shots – ensured Moycullen failed to get into any real rhythm.
Commins drilled a corner three and while Cathal Finn’s interceptions won’t show up in the box score, they were decisive as the visitors looked increasingly demoralised.
More turnovers were forced by good anticipation and timely positioning, as Commins and Rockall combined before the latter’s layup.
Paul Freeman displayed good anticipation in the paint to score shortly afterwards, before Rockall absorbed contact and finished at the hoop to give them a 16-point half-time cushion.
Cutuk continued snatching rebounds after the restart as Maree’s pressure continued, with the lead starting to balloon.
Haines scored nine third-quarter points, while Joe-Junior Mvuezolo and Rockall were among those also sinking baskets as Galway led by 27 at one stage.
Having only conceded 33 points after 30 minutes, this game was essentially over with a quarter still to play.
The healthy lead allowed extended minutes for the likes of John Burke, Matthew Sweeney and a Garry Fernane cameo as they eased to victory.
With seven made triples, this display also marks the second time in eight matches they’ve made more three-pointers than their opposition. Speaking of…
The league leaders next face a trip to Tralee Warriors next Saturday (7.30pm), with the hosts eager to make a statement and atone for a 95-85 defeat by Ballincollig confining them to a 2-5 start this season.
They were the first team to be outscored from long-distance by Maree and lost by a 20-point margin in the reverse matchup last month, so will this one be any different?
Scorers for CC Mhaigh Cuilinn: Mateo Liberatore Dargam 17, Grant Olsson 10, Ayberk Taylan 8, Kyle Cunningham 8, Rory O’Sullivan 3.
University of Galway Maree:
Starting line-up: Eoin Rockall, Rodrigo Gomez, Jarett Haines, Joe-Junior Mvuezolo, Zvonimir Cutuk.
Bench: Stephen Commins, Matthew Sweeney, Paul Freeman, John Burke, Zach Light, Garry Fernane, Cathal Finn.
CC Mhaigh Cuilinn:
Starting line-up: Dylan Cunningham, Kyle Cunningham, Joseph Tummon, Grant Olsson, Mateo Liberatore Dargam
Bench: Ayberk Taylan, Rory O’Sullivan, Dara Kenna, Brian Gaffney, Donagh McDonagh, Kevin Nugent.