Myerscough College vs Barking Abbey

Myerscough College booked their place in the EABL Final Four with a 73-71 victory over defending champions Barking Abbey in the Elite 8 on Wednesday at Myerscough.

Earl Russell hit the game winning lay up inside with six seconds remaining and Barking Abbey were unable to respond, with two consecutive turnovers on crucial plays as Myerscough advanced to the Final Four for the first time in the programme’s short history.

Tadhg Hickey caused problems for BA all game, finishing with 17 points to lead Myerscough, while Chris Bwana added 16, as Myerscough stormed the floor when the final horn sounded to celebrate their victory.

“We knew exactly how hard it was going to be,” said Myerscough Head Coach Neal Hopkins.

“Barking are without doubt the toughest team we have come up against and have all the pieces. Coach (Lloyd) Gardner and his staff have have done an incredible job this year and run an outstanding programme but my guys once again exceeded all expectations, we made big plays when it counted in an intense game where there were no freebies and held our nerve at the end, I can’t tell you how proud I am.”

Akwasi Yeboah had 19 points and 9 rebounds to lead BA, including the game tying three out of a timeout with 20.6 seconds remaining, while big man Nathan Smith was a force inside with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks.

It was a game of runs, with the first five minutes representing exactly how the rest of the game would go; Myerscough jumped out to a 6-0 lead, before BA responded with an 8-0 run of their own.

Neither team could get separation, but Myerscough always seemed to be in control as BA chased. The game was tied up at 33 going into the halftime break, but with seven minutes remaining, Myerscough had secured a 10 point lead, while BA looked beaten.

However, as “the comeback kids” have done all season long in NBL Division 1, BA fought back – it just wasn’t meant to be. Myerscough hit big shots when it mattered, including a couple from Alex Roberts who has caught in foul trouble all game, while Abbey couldn’t make the plays needed to get over the hump.

“First of all, congratulations to Myerscough, they’re a good programme and on the day they deserved to win, so good luck to them in the Final Four,” said BA Head Coach Lloyd Gardner.

“For us, we’re slightly disappointed with our performance. I didn’t think we played to the best of our ability, we played tight, we had a good opportunity down the stretch but we weren’t able to make shots when they counted and Myerscough did. They made crucial baskets at big times.

“It’s frustrating for us to lose not playing as well as we would have wanted, but at the same time it’s been a tremendous season, we have to remember that and take pride in our performances up until now, and learn from this experience.”

Myerscough will now await the winner of Itchen versus Charnwood on Friday for their semi-final match up.

Image Credit: Connor Tuxford

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