Edinburgh Knights edge out Uni in nail biter at Kelvin Hall

Rebecca Day
Glasgow University 74-70 Edinburgh Knights

Glasgow University narrowly missed out on a shock victory over Edinburgh Knights in a nail biting first leg of the Scottish national league semi-final last night at the Kelvin Hall but the team will travel to the capital on Saturday confident that they can cause a major upset.

Considering the Edinburgh Kings have been victorious in nine out of the last ten Scottish league championships, the first quarter of the first leg of the semi-final showed a dominant Glasgow pressuring their illustrious opposition. Chris Neal scored the first of a string of impressive 3 pointers for Glasgow, which left the Kings feeling uncomfortable. The strong Glasgow side were aided by star players Calum Nicol, John Buston and Steve Archer who play for the prestigious Scottish Universities team. The dynamic trio created chances and lead a strong attack. Glasgow proved a more tactical team in the first half, forced into elaborate moves by a physically imposing Edinburgh side.

Glasgow gained even more momentum in the second quarter, racking up the points and finishing with a comfortable eleven point lead of 42:31. The Edinburgh defence became more aggressive, yet the Glasgow team were resilient; Archer scored despite being fouled, and the team continued to rack up the points.
Glasgow started the third quarter in a similar vein, with a spectacular defence move by Calum Nicols, who stepped in to block a shot, pinning the ball against the backboard with effortless grace. This clearly put pressure on the Edinburgh team, who immediately upped their game. They closed gradually clawed back the Uni lead and overtook them by two points. It was now Glasgow’s turn to play catch up. Archer brought Glasgow back up to level with a two pointer, leading to a nail biting final quarter with scores poised at 52:52.

The Kings gained a new surge of confidence in the last quarter, yet the Glasgow team didn’t let victory slip away easily, with a foul allowing Calum Nicol to bring the team up to a one point deficit, with ten seconds remaining. The team called time out at 8 seconds to recover tactics, but the plan didn’t quite come to fruition. The Kings ground out the victory by four point with the Uni side eventually succombing 70:74.

Calum Neal was optimistic about the second leg of the semi final next Saturday in Edinburgh, despite the loss. ‘The Kings always beat us by margins’ he said, noting how in their last game, 6 weeks ago, they were suffered defeat in the dying seconds. He felt the reason Glasgow were overtaken on the second half was a loss of direction in defence, allowing Edinburgh to gain some easy points. Overall he was proud of his team’s efforts against the reigning champions in the league.

Glasgow coach Mike Lawton was equally pleased with his team’s performance, ‘they played like a team, and Glasgow are getting better every time we play against Edinburgh. We’re gaining strides’. He did not agree that the team lost through a lack of defence in the second half ‘Simon [Flockhart, Edinburgh Kings] made a bunch of tough turn arounds. If the big guy is making them and he’s being double teamed there’s nothing you can do’.

A win next weekend certainly doesn’t seem like an impossible feat, considering Glasgow were at one stage leading by 15 points in the first half. Yet Edinburgh coach Doug Keilly is secure that Edinburgh will perform to a higher standard next weekend, stating ‘I’m not making excuses, but we’ll be confident at our own gym’.
It seems the mentality of the players is crucial in the second leg, Glasgow are evidently a tough opposotion but do they possess the skill and experience to overcome a team so comfortable at the top?


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