St Mirren 61 v 66 Boroughmuir Blaze

Scottish Cup Semi-final (Junior Women)

St Mirren West College Scotland Junior Women entertained East Coast opponents Boroughmuir Blaze in the Scottish Cup Semi-final with the winners facing City of Edinburgh in the showcase final in February.   The previous National League game between the two sides in October was a very tight affair, with Blaze winning by 2 points, and this game promised more of the same.

St Mirren won the tip-off and proceed to take the game to their opponents, but early efforts lipped out to keep the game pointless.  Blaze then took the initiative and opened the scoring with a quick breal before Iona Ross restored parity.   With both defences on top, it was an ultra-cautious game and after 6 minutes play, only 8 points were on the board, with Blaze narrowly ahead.  Laura Collins came off the bench to inject some pace into the Saints attack, and this opened out the game somewhat, as each side traded baskets to end the 1st Quarter even at 10-10.

St Mirren continued their pressing game with interceptions and fast breaks, although they still failed to convert a high percentage of their chances, and thus kept Boroughmuir in the game.   The home side’s failure to take rebounds under the basket was to prove costly, as Blaze’s tall inside players took their chances to establish a slender lead as the buzzer approached.  However, some pressure play from Saints let Maisie Huey in for a late 3 pointer to give St Mirren a narrow lead at 25-24 at Halftime.

The nature of the game changed early in the second half, as most of Blaze’s starting five found themselves in foul trouble, and this introduced some caution into their defensive play.  Fine play from Shona McCrea created an opening for co-captain Clare Dewar to increase the home side’s lead, before defensive lapses let Boroughmuir score 3 quick baskets to take a 3 point lead of their own,  The game suddenly became very open and swung from end to end with never more than a couple of points between them.   So tight was the game that you would have needed a crowbar to separate the sides.     With strong play giving them some daylight, 2 late baskets from the excellent Niamh Macleod saw the deficit reduced with Blaze holding a 43-45 lead at the break.

A clever inception by Kayleigh Sellar gave Macleod another early opportunity, and she nailed her long range effort in style for 3 points and the lead.  Blaze stormed back and recapture the initiative, before another Macleod 3 pointer brought parity.   At this stage some carelessness from the home defence brought fouls which were to prove costly as Blaze took the free throws.

With less than a minute on the clock, St Mirren reduced their opponent’s lead to two points and tried to get into position to hit a late winner.   Blaze’s firm defence held on with Saints only break coming with a foul on Laura Collins which took her to the line for two free throws, one of which was converted to leave the Edinburgh side with a slender one point lead and possession with less than 20 seconds left.  Saints had to gamble to get the ball back and this meant that Blaze took advantage of the resultant fouls to nail 4 late free throws which gave them an unassailable 4 point lead as time ran out for St Mirren.   Final Score : 61-66

A gallant effort from Saints, who despite the majority of the pressure, could not convert their chances, and found themselves out of the Scottish Cup.   Saints top scorers were Niamh Macleod with 22 points and Kayleigh Sellar & Iona Ross both on 10 points.   Next up for Saints is a National League game at home to Ayr Storm at The Lagoon, Paisley on Sunday 15th January, tip-off 2.20pm.

 

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