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Hibernians beat Depiro to go top of the women’s league

Caffe Moak Luxol         57

Starlites Naxxar           53

(11-14, 13-8, 18-13, 15-18)

A very balanced match ended with Caffe Moak Luxol just edging past Starlites Naxxar to register their first league win whilst the latter are still searching for their first league victory after two game days.

Two Starlites treys from Stephanie Davies and Cristina Curmi respectively replied to Luxol’s early lead after a tris of hoops shared between ex-Starlites Josephine Diaby and American guard Jennifer Oramas.

The Naxxar side kept a slight upper edge till the end of the first quarter as Mikela Riolo banged in two three-balls to lead her side to a slender 14-11 lead.

A 9-2 run in the middle part of the second quarter helped Luxol to overturn the result in their favour with free throws from veteran Susanna Bonfiglio starting off the run followed by a brace of side jumpers from Sharon Vella.

It was still a very evenly-matched game and the first half ended with just a basket separating the two sides at 24-22 after late close-range hoops from Diaby.

An 8-0 Luxol streak midway in the third rubber was quite influential on the remainder of the game. Diaby and Vella shred these points which helped Luxol to overturn the result to a 36-29 lead and from then on it was Starlites who had to try their all to recover.

A late third quarter hoop from Oramas made the scoreline 42-35 with ten minutes to go and when play restarted it was the young Starlites guard Andrea Saliba who took responsibility to instigate her team-mates for a final effort and a Riolo trey then kept Starlites momentarily close by.

Yet, here Luxol replied with an important six-point run, including a Sarah Pace trey, which opened a double-digit lead for them 56-43.

Only three minutes were left and Starlites tried to make a final effort and came quite close, but time was in Luxol’s favour as the latter snatched the win.

Luxol: L. Fenech Pace, S. Pace 6, A. Mercieca, N. Vella 2, S. Vella 12, A. Borg, P. Ellul 2, J. Diaby 19, S. Said, S. Bonfiglio 4, A. Fenech Pace, J. Oramas 12.

Starlites: A. Saliba 8, M. Riolo 17, S. Farrugia Tabone, M. Bonett 8, K. Portelli, M. Fenech, C. Vella, S. Wilke, S. Davies 3, C. Curmi 17.  

Referees: B. Vassallo, N. Azzopardi, I. Ciurariu.

ARMS Depiro 47

Hibernians      76

(7-19, 9-17, 17-18, 14-22)

Hibernians took early control of a match between two sides who started off the league campaign with a win and emerged rightful winners to take the solitary leadership position in the standings after Game Day 2.

Depiro had their import player, Hannah Johnson, back on the court after being sidelined with injury in the last weeks and she even notched the game’s first points with a trey. But Hibs quickly hit back with a 9-0 run with two Ylenia Bonett hoops around a Jasmine Abela three-ball, and the first basket from the game’s top scorer Kenyotta Jenkins.

Although Depiro broke their drought with points off Julia Xerri and Johnson, Hibs maintained control of the tempo and Asleigh van Vliet’s points together with Jenkins, who also grabbed a number of offensive boards, helped the Paolites to a 24-7 lead after 13 minutes of play.

Facing this deficit, Depiro tried to achieve more consistency in their offensive ploys, also with points off Monique Caruana, but their successful efforts were immediately thwarted at the other end.

Jenkins found more space underneath the boards aided with a trey from Marie Buhagiar as the two sides went in for the half time break at 36-16.

Play was much more balanced in the third quarter with Depiro notching points from Johnson and Danika Galea. But again Hibs were matching equally all their opponents’ efforts as now there were also conclusions from their veteran captain Samantha Brincat.

The game, at this juncture, was already decided and play was quite open in the last quarter and both coaches opted to even include most of the bench players for what could be important game time experience given the length of the league campaign.

Depiro: H. Johnson 20, M. Caruana 8, N. Agius, J. Xerri 9, J. Mallia, L. Duncan, T. Mifsud, No. Agius, C. Ciantar 2, N. Hili, N. Borg 2, D. Galea 6.

Hibernians:  M. Buhagiar 6, Y. Bonett 12, A. Van Vliet 8, S. Brincat 10, B. Agius, J. Abela 3, C. Camilleri 2, N. Farrugia 5, K. Caruana 3, J. Dabic, J. Borg Cardona 2, K. Jenkins 25.

Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, I. Simic, N. Azzopardi.

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