Oxford Men’s basketballers achieved an impressive victory over their perennial rivals, the London South Bank Topcats. The final score, 84-82, reflected a close-fought game that provided some excellent basketball from both sides. The Blues, led by captain Reed Doucette and the free-scoring Stephen Danley, began the contest in fine form and never relinquished their early lead.
Oxford emerged from their warm-ups in a confident mood, and that attitude carried over after the tip-off.
Aside from a few careless turnovers, Oxford played a fantastic game in terms of tactics and execution. With both teams having already qualified for the Southern conference play-offs, each of the league’s top two squads were eager to assert their dominance.
The overall performance will be immensely pleasing to the Blues coaches; post-Vacation rust was minimal, with perhaps only Oxford’s erratic shooting in the early stages of the game a minor blemish. As the match-up progressed, mistakes became less frequent and the team’s field-goal percentages increased.
The Blues led at the end of all 4 quarters, but a win here was by no means simple. The game remained especially close through the first 3 quarters, and a tense final minute saw the Blues narrowly survive an admirable South Bank rally. The Topcats scored an extraordinary 4-point play to tie the game with only 50 seconds remaining, but Oxford responded with a fine play of their own: point guard Skomantas Pocius carried the ball down-court before arrowing a pass to the right side of the 3-point line- the outstanding Tom Parker held his nerve to nail down an important, high-pressure shot that lifted Oxford above their opponents.
Doucette bossed the boards all night long, leading his team at both ends of the court. Oxford’s offense relies upon good decision-making and intelligent passes from its ball carriers; Pocius excelled in these areas for all 4 quarters, providing the team’s forwards with plenty of chances to dominate.
These two teams might very likely meet again, in a more meaningful contest, further along in their campaigns to win a national championship. Having fallen last year at the semi-final hurdle, Oxford will be greatly motivated to move one step further and challenge for a British title. If they continue to play this well, there is no reason not to believe that the Blues can become the very best university team in the nation.