Published Tuesday 6th December 2011
McDonalds Depiro 45
Alyssa Ashley Loyola 43
(8-6, 18-18, 6-6, 13-13)
Loyola had beaten Depiro in a Shield match but this was a different affair. Although Depiro were in front for the major part of the encounter Loyola were never far behind and a nail-biting finish had both sides locked together until Depiro grabbed a basket advantage which puts the emphasis on the return game and an aggregate finish to determine the team to advance to the semis.
Depiro had Francesca Bianco abroad and Maria Bonett absent with Martina Mifsud and Justine Xuereb taking their places. Loyola’s Kim Borg was also to miss the match.
It was Depiro with the better opening as they made up an opening 8-0 run mostly from points by Antoinette Borg. Loyola replied late in the period with Jean Doughty to the fore as they crept to within a basket and put pressure on Depiro with such a close score.
The points escalated at both ends in the second session. Loyola twice drew level but Depiro were ahead once more as Steffi De Martino netted a triple with more points from her and Borg in a 9-2 run. Loyola had Laura Denooz to drag them just behind their opponents. Depiro held on to their advantage but Loyola were still snapping at their heels till the interval as Depiro hung on to a low 26-24 score.
Both sides were point shy once more after the break. Loyola tied the score but Depiro eked out another lead. Emma Moore helped Loyola to keep in close touch and that single basket difference was still there after the end of the third period with Depiro hanging on to a 32-30 favourable score.
Loyola were on level terms in the final session and then forged in front with Christina Grima points. Sam Brincat who had only made free shots until then netted a triple as Depiro were back in front.
Abigail Sciberras consecutive free throws had Loyola back as they twice more were tied on points. In the dying seconds Brincat gave Depiro a basket lead to take with them into the return encounter.
Depiro: 1 A. Mifsud, G. Mifsud, J. Xuereb, 14 S. Brincat, M. Scicluna, M. Mifsud, 3 T. De Martino, 13 A. Borg, C. Sammut, E. Vella, 3 S. Micallef, 11 S. De Martino
Loyola: 6 E. Moore, 14 C. Grima, 7 J. Doughty, 4 L. Denooz, 2 D. Hollier, K. Tonna, A. Bonanno, J. Mangion, 4 A. Sciberras, 6 SJ Barbara
Referees: G. Barbara, A. Carbonaro