UEL Women’s basketball coach Tope Alli-Balogun praised his players says after his side dismantled Queen Mary University of London 60-22 at SportsDock on Wednesday.
In their first home game of the season, top of the table UEL rose to the occasion and maintained their 100% start to the campaign with a clinical attacking display.
“Be Perfect All the Time”
Having won their opening four matches, Alli-Balogun stated what his sides’ ambitions are in light of their excellent form:
“Keep winning, win, win, win, win, be undefeated, get promoted to Premier that’s the goal. That has to be the goal because you can win four or five in a row, and then lose six in a row and wonder where the whole season went. It’s important you stay focused, keep working and the goal is to be perfect all the time.”
Queen Mary began the match at a high tempo. Mbeledogu and Coary looked to utilise their offensive qualities to expose a weakness in UEL’s defence.
However, UEL captain Alex Sasebes and Ash Biong linked up brilliantly early on with Biong, scoring a hat-trick of baskets to give the hosts a 13-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
UEL succeeded in extending their lead during the second quarter. They had shown glimpses of promising attacking play, but stepped it up a gear with a brilliant piece of team play to conclude the second quarter. Kipewu, Parker and Cotton combined superbly before Biong showed great strength to spin her marker and convert the lay-up to put UEL 24-10 up at the halfway stage.
As the third quarter progressed both teams stepped up their attacking ambitions. UEL’s Bauer scored twice in a matter of minutes, whilst Sasebes continued to pull the strings and create opportunities for her team who raced into a 28-10 lead.
UEL had found a hunger for points now, with Cotton and Kipewu adding to their tally. Pierre managed to claw two points back for the visitors, but they couldn’t prevent UEL from surging into a commanding 41-12 lead.
This game was played at a high intensity, with UEL continuing to push for further points whilst Queen Mary were determined to reduce their deficit.
However, this was made difficult by UEL’s relentless attacking mentality which saw Bauer, Parker and Biong add to the scoreboard. It was a fine performance from the hosts, who finished the match with an enormous 38-point advantage.
More Focus On Defence
After the match, Alli-Balogun assessed both the positive and negative aspects of his sides’ performance: “I would say probably for us that was a 6/10 type of performance. We had moments where we were really good and really dominant, and then other moments we were invisible on defence. So, we’ve got to fix that but I can’t complain about a 40-point win anytime.”
However, Alli-Balogun expressed a desire to see more from his team as a collective: “It’s tough to play teams that are not quite the same level, but Queen Mary they work hard and they were outworking us for a lot of the game. That’s where my frustration lies but overall we had some okay performances, a really good performance from Ash this week, but we need more contributions from more people like we would normally have.”
UEL did well to restrict Queen Mary’s scoring, but Alli-Balogun acknowledged that his side need to work on the defensive aspect of their game: “At times, the way that they play offence allowed us to sometimes get away with mistakes on defence that we shouldn’t get away with. Other types of teams and better teams will definitely punish us, yes we held them to 22, but at times we made too many mistakes so we’ve got to fix that this week in practice.”
After a large turnover of players during the summer, Alli-Balogun spoke of the role that team chemistry plays in building success: “That is a very important thing. We have a lot of new players this year, we only have three returning players from last season so obviously we are building a lot of the chemistry and a lot of the turnovers we are having at the moment are because we are not on the same page. The more that we play together, the less that will happen, the better we’ll play, and the happier I’ll be.”
UEL will take a break from league action next Wednesday as they begin their BUCS Basketball Trophy campaign with a home tie against the University of Cambridge. The match will take place at SportsDock, with tip-off scheduled for 4pm.