Despite a slow start after the holiday break, the Oxford Men’s Blues basketball team came back from an 18-point first half deficit to beat Coventry away last Wednesday. A third quarter small-ball line-up turned the tide after a rusty first half, including six straight baskets from guard Isaac Low. Mid-way through the fourth quarter, Oxford captured the lead for the first time since the opening minutes.
In the final minutes, both teams traded baskets before a Coventry three-pointer cut Oxford’s slight lead to a single point with 10 seconds to play. In front of a hostile crowd with the game on the line, Younes Saidani and Richard Johanson closed out the game from the free throw line. The eventual margin of victory was three points, 67 – 70. “It certainly wasn’t pretty, but we’re glad to have an important win on the board as we look towards Varsity later in February,” said captain Chris McIntyre.
“Confidence in the team is high after claiming three out of the last four games,” said power forward Tommy Pullan. “There’s tangible improvement in each session. A deep cup run on the cards?”
The win over Coventry leaves Oxford Men’s tied with Loughborough for points in 5th place in the Midlands 1A League, 9 points adrift of promotion with only three games left to play. However, Oxford have also reached the last 16 of the BUCS cup unbeaten, marking a significant improvement on their performance last year in which they exited in the first round.
The Men’s Blues will play Royal Holloway next Wednesday 6th February for a place in the quarter-finals, and will play away at Cambridge in the 2019 Varsity match on 23 February, looking to extend their winning streak after victory last year. With plucky performances like that against Coventry, both Royal Holloway and Cambridge can be sure of a fight.
Image credit: Adam Rothwell