A strong start for Brunel meant the Sports Hall spectators were feeling confident going into one of the last fixtures of the day at Varsity. The trophy win was not certain as Brunel and St. Mary’s Men’s Basketball teams took to the court, which allowed for an electric atmosphere as Brunel supporters came out in force for one of the most anticipated Varsity fixtures of the day.
Brunel Men’s Basketball first team have celebrated a number of successes this year after finishing 8th overall in the country – a stark contrast to their devastating loss to St Mary’s at Varsity last year, which was a real blow to the whole team.
The first quarter tipped off to a strong start from Brunel as they managed to stay ahead for the majority of the quarter. Brunel kept possession for the most part and the pace of play allowed for many opportunities which Brunel did not hesitate to utilise. St Mary’s attempted to pull ahead towards the end of the quarter but Nick Crust silenced them with a three pointer which sent the crowd into uproar.
The basket put the team in good spirits but they were unable to hold off St Mary’s, who finally drew level with them for 22-22 at the end of the first quarter.
The strong start became shaky by the end of the first quarter and in the second things only got worse for Brunel. An optimistic Brunel support grew more and more subdued as the second quarter saw basket after basket from the Simmies, pulling ahead into a strong lead as that one ginger Simmie landed what seemed like endless baskets after being awarded a number of free-throws. The four St Mary’s supporters in the crowd were gloating as the away team pulled ahead to end the first half 37-47 to St Mary’s. Brunel support was getting more and more nervous and the tension on the court was clear; Brunel players argued amongst themselves and questioning the ref awarded a number of penalties to the away team, only serving to heighten the nerves amongst the Brunel side. Meanwhile news was coming in of bad luck for Brunel in the Netball and Football, making a win at Basketball even more essential and piling more pressure on the team.
The second half opened with Brunel stepping up their defense and denying St Mary’s opportunities left right and centre. Then came the baskets – more three pointers from Brunel’s Michael Darlow and Sam Dunscombe, and a truly spectacular display from Benji Lawmann who intercepted the ball from a St Mary’s attack, and took it –unopposed - all the way back down to the Brunel end, landing a theatrical dunk which sent the crowd into a frenzy.
The change in tactic saw St Mary’s defense disintegrate under the pressure and more free-throws allowed Prince Lartey of Brunel to sink a few more points for the home team. As Brunel pulled ahead the crowd was sent into a frenzy and the match finished with Brunel taking home the win with a jaw-dropping comeback after an underwhelming first half, and a final score of 80 – 68 to Brunel.
Michael Darlow (1st Team Captain) told Le Nurb:
I can't really put into words how I am feeling right now, am incredibly relieved and absolutely delighted that we won, I really thought we were all going to experience the same depressing scenes like last year! I am proud of every single player that stepped onto the court, we really showed we could play basketball at a high level no matter what circumstance we were in.
To pull the lead back and then win has to be one of my greatest memories at Brunel. The experience wouldn't have been the same without the tremendous support from the crowd, thank you so much to everyone who came down! Varsity has delivered yet again!”