DCU Mercy will play The Address UCC Glanmire in the Paudie O’Connor Cup final of the InsureMyHouse.ie National Cup, after they defeated WIT Waterford Wildcats 68-65 in the semi-finals at Neptune Stadium. DCU Mercy’s two Americans, Bailey Greenberg and Alarie Mayze, stood out with 20 and 18 points respectively.
WIT Waterford Wildcats started brightly and opened up an 8-4 lead by the third minute, Abby Flynn scoring four points, two frees and a layup, she’d have six points by the end of the quarter. It was a frantic end-to-end opening quarter, Greenberg and Mayze with six points each, but it was WIT Waterford Wildcats who led 18-16 by the end of it.
The second quarter followed the pattern of the first, WIT Wildcats inching into a lead, only for DCU Mercy to peg them back. A Stephanie O’Shea layup had WIT Waterford Wildcats 30-24 up with three minutes to go in the second quarter.
But a Mayze fastbreak and layup and another layup from Rachel Huijsdens made it a one-point game, 30-29, with less than two minutes to go. But WIT Waterford Wildcats stretched their advantage to five by half-time, 34-29, Rachel Thompson with the final points of the quarter.
DCU Mercy cancelled out that advantage in the opening minute of the third quarter, thanks to a Mayze 3-point jump shot and a Greenberg layup, to bring it level at 34-34. DCU Mercy then went in front with four and a half minutes gone in the quarter, Greenberg again with a two-point jump shot, to lead 43-42.
A big three from Rachel Thomspon in the sixth minute put WIT Waterford Wildcats back ahead, 45-43. However the topsy turvy nature of the game continued, two Hannah Thornton lay-ups saw the lead switch once more, with Mayze following with two points too, to make it 49-46 to DCU Mercy.
DCU Mercy opened the fourth quarter with two big threes from Bailey Greenberg to make it 55-48, but Kate Hickey responded with one of her own for WIT Waterford Wildcats.
Four points in quick succession by Megan Connolly saw DCU Mercy open a nine point advantage, 64-55, midway through the final quarter and an Alarie Mayze rebound afterwards 66-55 made it an 11-point game.
WIT Waterford Wildcats tried to force their way back into the contest, however the baskets just weren’t initially landing for Tommy O’Mahony’s side. But WIT Waterford Wildcats came roaring back in the final two minutes, with nine points in a row to make it 68-65 with 32 seconds remaining. As the clock ran out Jazmine Walker had one final attempt to level it, but failed with her three point effort.
Speaking afterwards DCU Mercy head coach Mark Ingle said: “If I am being really honest the preparation wasn’t great for the semi-finals, because of Covid and players missing. I am sure it was same for Wildcats and other teams. I always thought that we were not going to be as sharp as possible, that we’d really have to battle. I think we really battled in that third and fourth quarter, where it might not have been pretty basketball, our defence was really excellent, forced a lot of tough shots on Wildcats, because they’ve been a really good team this year, they’re right at the top of the league.
“I thought Bailey (Greenberg) really stepped up today, she was good at both ends and then Alarie (Mayze) had to guard Rachel Thompson, the Wildcats top player, I thought she did a really good job on her, forcing her into tough shots, so it was a good performance by both players.”
WIT Waterford Wildcats head coach Tommy O’Mahony was pleased how his side fought back in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. “We worked really hard, we kind of let it away in the third and fourth quarter. We were controlling the first half and we just didn’t execute in offence. I think looking at stats-wise I think we shot the ball 24 more times than them, but our percentages weren’t great at all, we weren’t nailing our shots when we should have been nailing our shots and they just executed really well. But we made a great comeback, we just couldn’t get it over the line, we just ran out of time, it was a good comeback, we just didn’t do enough on the day.”