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A hard fought and hotly contested game saw DMU Griffins 2nds lose out by a mere 2 points to the University of Northampton (UoN) on Wednesday night. The hosts started brightly, taking an early 3 point lead and standing firm in the face of constant pressure. UoN looked strong and confident on the counterattack but were unable to threaten the lead in the early minutes. The matchup was one of two contrasting teams. The technical ability and finesse of the Griffins pitched against the physicality and speed on the counter of the visitors.

The physicality began to pay off, as drives through the centre of the defending home side were made to pay off thanks to the positive play and daring attitude of the visitors. However, the majority of DMU’s offensive play down the right-hand side paid dividends, with Lukas Bytautas impressing early on with a series of fast breaks. After 5 minutes of play, the visitors had a marginal foothold, but a succession of free throws brought the score back to 15 all, dispatched with precision by DMU’s Lukas Bytautas. However, it wasn’t to last, as UoN’s daring counterattacks down the middle of the court saw them take the lead with 2 minutes to go. At the first quarter’s conclusion, the score stood at 27-22 to the Griffins.

The second quarter began as the first ended; fast breaks, once again spearheaded by DMU’s Bytautas. The stalwart defence that UoN had presented in the first quarter was caught unaware by the ferocity and speed of the Griffins opening attacks and was unable to stall the onrush of charges down the right flank. After a wrongly called travel, UoN began to claw their way back into the game, and before long the teams were separated by just 3 points in DMU’s favour. A succession of fouls late on saw DMU gain 2 free throws and possession, both of which were capitalised on. At the end of the second quarter, the Griffins’ lead had been preserved but only just, standing at 48-40.

The third period began with 5 minutes of attacking chaos; with each counterattack, the scoreline rose, as neither team were able to gain a foothold without it being wiped away. A stunning solo effort from UoN brought the madness to an end, as the Griffins once again built up a lead. In desperation, UoN counterattacked and brought the scores to within 4 points at 61-57. With three-quarters of the third gone, a collision saw a brief stoppage in play and a few moments for both teams to get their bearings again after stunning displays of attacks and counterattacks. The quarter ended with a quick succession of attacks from the home side, with very few wasted.

Going into the final period of the game UoN were applying pressure and making it pay off. Before long the score stood at 72 all with 8 minutes to go. Despite frantic attempts to hold off, the physicality of the visiting team once again began to come into play as confident drives through the centre rocked the zonal defence that the Griffins had relied on all game. A late spell of counterattacks brought the score back to 80-78 to the Griffins, setting up a grandstand finish. Despite a few missed free throws late on, UoN were able to exploit the tiring Griffins and began to rack up points once again. As the buzzer went, the final score stood at 85-83 in favour of the visitors. A difficult defeat to take for the home side, who had dominated so much of the game in the early stages, but a close-run defeat nevertheless.

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Posted by Oliver Heppenstall

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