Luxol comeback earns them fifth tie
Luxol revived their hopes of retaining the championship for a second successive year last week-end when they came from behind against Alyssa Ashley Loyola to level the series at 2-2 and force a deciding fifth game which will be played next Sunday.
Alyssa Ashley Loyola 55
(16-11, 16-12, 18-16, 5-20)
Loyola looked destined to chalk up their first league title as they were the better team for the first three quarters but Luxol opened strongly the last ten minutes to forge ahead and secure victory in front of a sizeable crowd.
With Sam-Jo Barbara and Adelina Bonanno leading the side, Loyola cancelled Luxol’s early advantage to go 16-11 up at the end of the first quarter.
Luxol were slow to react, continuing to fall behind 32-23 at half-time despite the several changes in the side effected by coach Christoph Stophl.
They narrowed the gap to six points (37-31) after the break but, again, some sluggish passing and poor rebounding rate allowed Ruth Spiteri’s Loyola to regain the initiative at 43-31.
Loyola started the last ten minutes with a 50-39 lead and the chances of a major breakthrough in their honours were now good.
However, Luxol had other ideas in mind as they grew steadily in confidence and with three minutes left they were only a basket away 52-50.
The next moves were riddled with mistakes but Luxol levelled matters with a Beverly Zammit three-pointer (55-all) and now less than a minute remained.
Loyola missed their shot and Zammit calmly potted two-free-throws after a foul to put Luxol ahead.
Desarae Johnson was fouled in Loyola’s next attack but after potting crucial baskets in the previous two ties, this time the US forward missed both her free-throws as Robin Murphy pounced on the rebound to secure her team’s win.
Loyola: E. Moore 4, C. Grima 13, J. Doughty, D. Hollier, K. Tonna, A. Bonanno 10, J. Mangion, A. Sciberras, F. Camilleri, S.J. Barbara 12, D. Johnson 16.
Luxol: S. Pace 7, M. Sciortino 11, C. Medina, B. Naudi 2, J Busuttil Gaerty, G. Zarb 5, P. Ellul, R. Murphy 27, D. Muscat, A. Paul, B. Zammit 7.
Referees: B. Vassallo, A. Carbo-naro, C. Terribile.
Game 5: (Sunday, 16.30) Luxol vs Loyola.