UoN Secure Varsity Title With Women’s Basketball Win 

UON shoot from a free throw in the women's basketball Varsity match
Henry Durand

Here we are folks. One of the most anticipated Varsity events of the calendar, Varsity Basketball, had arrived at David Ross. The bleachers were full and rowdy, as both sides’ fans hoped to see their university take home much-needed points in what has been a competitive Varsity week so far. Ahead of the games, UoN needed one point from the two fixtures should NTU take the football title, which was played simultaneously. Henry Durand takes us back to the action.

This prestigious Trent team took home the win last year, but Ben Holland’s UoN side were looking to prove Nottingham’s basketball landscape is very much green and gold. Trent kicked off the scoring with a three ball by Hall, swiftly met with a roar from the Trent collective.  

The opening minutes of the first quarter saw a tightly contested, physical battle. 15 was at the heart of the action, dominating the boards on both ends of the court. Despite an early Trent lead, Derin Eryilmaz came into the game and made an instant impact, putting some quick points on the board including an impressive and-one (a shot whilst being fouled).  

UoN were doing their best to hang with the talented Trent roster, with big plays being made on both ends

Nevertheless, some impressive Trent perimeter shooting saw them take a six-point lead heading into the second quarter. This trend continued after the quarter-time break, with the Trent lead extending to as much as 12. Despite this, UoN were doing their best to hang with the talented Trent roster, with big plays being made on both ends.  

Notts’ Rilewa Razzaq anchored the defence, making a huge chasedown block on a Trent fastbreak. The remainder of the quarter saw a much more low-scoring affair, specifically for UoN. Trent were definitely not at their best, but poor finishing around the rim and unnecessary turnovers meant the Green and Gold struggled to get a foothold in the game. The half concluded with Trent taking a commanding lead of 46-32.  

In true basketball style, halftime saw an array of entertainment. Trent cheerleading kicked off proceedings, supported by an stirring drumming ensemble. The impressive performance had David Ross feeling like a scene from High School Musical.  

Trent started the second half with intent as two quick threes leading to a timeout from the UoN coach as the lead reached 20. It was a long way back for Nottingham from here. Slow offence output from both teams continued, nevertheless, UoN were not going away easily.  

In spite of offensive struggles, Ben Holland’s last Varsity performance saw his trademark defensive skills on full effect. He wasn’t alone either – the third quarter saw impressive blocks from both McDermott and Ozuntoa. Despite defensive improvements, Notts’ lack of offensive potency saw meant the Trent lead remained an intimidating 16 heading into the 4th.  

The final buzzer sounded, the final score of 81-57 to Trent

The opening period of the fourth quarter saw UoN’s prospects turn from intimidating to almost obsolete. All credit must go to Trent, whose quality and attractive brand of basketball shone through as the game progressed. A key to their success was their impressive depth, with bench players such as Adekeye coming into the game and showcasing an array of offensive skill and finesse. Other key figures in this dominant Trent display included Matimba, whose relentless work-rate ensured his side maintained a high level for all 40 minutes. The final buzzer sounded, the final score of 81-57 to Trent.  

UoN can hold their heads high but there will be an undeniable bitter taste left in their mouths on their short journeys home tonight, knowing they could’ve done more. The focus now turned to the women’s fixture, with the University of  Nottingham looking to avenge their male counterparts and secure the overall Varsity series win. 

The women’s game began soon after the men’s had ended, and disappointingly, much of the crowd dispersed. Regardless, the fans that remained were passionate and loud. As the lineups were announced, fan favourite names received some noise and excitement.  

Notts started strong, kicking off the game with nine unanswered points. The UoN ladies had strong support from an enthusiastic bench, with chants of ‘defence, hustle’ spurring their teammates on. The first quarter charge was led by UoN’s Tresai McCarver and Immani Whittington, who stretched the Green and Gold lead to 27-14 after the first quarter, missing only one shot between them.  

Roles had reversed from the men’s fixture as UoN stretched their lead to upwards of 20 points

The high scoring continued in the second period, including an impressive fadeaway from Trent’s Boros, yet another three from Whittington, and an impressive behind the back assist from McCarver to vice-captain Redhead. Roles had reversed from the men’s fixture as UoN stretched their lead to upwards of 20 points midway through the second quarter.  

Trent hustled hard, putting their bodies on the line, but Notts’ offensive firepower ensured the side in pink remained at arm’s length. A physical and feisty half ended with UoN leading 46-23. Once again, the crowd were treated to stunning performances from both universities’ dance teams.  

The second half continued just as the first ended, with the splash sisters McCarver and Whittington continuing their dominance, taking the lead above 30 by the halfway point of the third. NTU forwards De La Pena and Coshun fought hard down low in the paint to keep Trent within reach, but this physicality was matched by Notts, underlined by a tough and-one play by centre Belsham. The third quarter finished 75-36.  

Notts began the chase for a century of points

In an almost processional 4th quarter, it gave the chance for many to enjoy their last few minutes in a Green and Gold jersey. Redhead and Whittington found consistent success from behind the arc all night, and this continued in the final period. Notts began the chase for a century of points, reaching it in style with a pull-up jumper from Whittington. The 100th point brought Notts up to a 50-point lead, putting an exclamation mark on what marked an emphatic win in both this fixture and Varsity as a whole.  

Whilst there were blow-out victories in both games, the annual basketball fixtures were a thoroughly enjoyable affair. Lively crowds, great half-time entertainment and players putting it all on the line for their universities underlined all that is good about Varsity competition. Both Trent and UoN will now be hanging their jerseys up for the summer, but we can be sure they will come back firing on all cylinders when next year’s Varsity rolls around. 

Unbelievably, Varsity 2024 will see UoN going for their twelfth consecutive series win! After defeats in the men’s basketball and football on Thursday night, the women’s basketball team put on a show to dominate the crucial game and secure an 8.5-6.5 victory for the Green and Gold. 

Henry Durand

Featured image courtesy of Tom Dunn. Permission given to Impact to use. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 1 courtesy of @uon_basketball via Instagram. No changes were made to this image.

In article image 2 courtesy of @uonsport and @uonsu_sports via Instagram. No changes were made to this image.

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