The University of Sheffield Men’s Basketball 1s started their quest for promotion from BUCS Northern Division 2B with an 85-77 victory over Northumbria University Men’s 3s on Wednesday at Goodwin.
Northumbria, looking to gain revenge following defeat to Sheffield last season, started the opening minutes of the first quarter brightly, taking a 7-2 lead with the home side failing to muster anything on offence.
Their lead did not last for long; Sheffield fought back, capitalising on steals to unleash explosive breakaways to take a 24-17 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Beginning the second quarter, the visitors set out to close the deficit early, but found themselves halted by a rigid Sheffield defence which excelled at stopping activity around the hoop. The home side’s ability to repeatedly latch onto rebounds at both ends of the court proved to be a massive factor, with numerous scoring opportunities presented as a result.
With the game becoming increasingly heated, Northumbria staged a fightback just after Sheffield’s Marko Amesaza-Kutija left the game on crutches, yet the visitors failed to make a free throw that would have seen their opponents’ lead cut to just one point.
Jonathon Tsui made Northumbria pay, converting two free throws of his own to put Sheffield 43-37 up, with three more points added before the end of the quarter as the hosts threatened to pull away. They would do exactly that at the start of the third quarter as Tsui built on his first half performance, deftly making his way through the Northumbria defence on multiple occasions to help Sheffield storm into a 57-43 lead.
Defensively, Sheffield were still holding out, but a few moments of complacency in the form of some sloppy passes saw Northumbria claw their way back into the game.
With the third quarter coming to a close, the visitors capitalised on some timely momentum to slash the lead to just six points, with the scoreline standing at 65-59.
As much as Northumbria pushed in the fourth quarter, Sheffield’s strong defence continued to collect rebounds and stop the opposition creating anything of note, while at the other end the away side could not keep Sheffield at bay. The hosts would suffer more injury problems towards the end of the match, however, as Tsui left the game following a collision.
Sheffield were not deterred, and sealed the win with an eight-point advantage over the visitors to record a vital win in their season-opening game.
After the game, victorious captain Jake Chilver told Forge Sport: “I’m absolutely delighted. The first game is always a difficult one to get out of the way.” Chilver and his side visit the University of Leeds Men’s 1s next week as they look to add to their opening day victory.