Game day seven of the MAPFRE MSV Life Women League resulted in leaders Hibernians losing their unbeaten record when they were beaten by the odd basket against a resolute Caffe Moak Luxol who lost their American guard Jenniffer Oramas through injury early in the second quarter.
The game set off on a balanced note with both sides practically at par for the first quarter. Yet Luxol started distancing themselves in the second rubber and even opened a double-digit 35-24 half-time lead as Josephine Diaby and Sarah Pace took over after Oramas’ unfortunate injury.
Three consecutive treys from Samantha Brincat, Jasmine Abela and Kirsty Caruana respectively helped Hibs to overturn the scoreline going into the final quarter.
It was a totally open game as the clock entered into its last minute after a brace of Brincat free throws put Hibs marginally ahead, 56-55.
Diaby missed the chance to put Luxol back in front when failing on a pair of free throws but, seconds from the end at the opposite side, young Ylenia Bonett did likewise.
With time practically running out, Pace penetrated the Hibs’ zone on a transition and was fouled with less than two seconds left to play. She converted the first free throw to bring the game at par but then missed the second, only for Luxol’s veteran Italian Susanna Bonfiglio to enter for the rebound and shoot a jumper from four metres which went into the basket after bouncing twice on the rim.
The game buzzer had sounded and Luxol took the win despite eventual late protests from Hibs on the validity of the final shot.
In the other match, a late first quarter 14-3 streak, with Danika Galea getting most of the points from close range, helped ARMS Depiro to open a small but consistent lead over Starlites.
The Naxxar side did improve in the second quarter with Maria Bonett notching a poker of hoops and with Stephanie Demartino returning back on court after a lay-off due to injury.
The margin between the two sides came down to four points, 32-28, early in the second half but Depiro, inspired by Hannah Johnson, were quick to regain the upper edge and re-opened a double digit-lead within three minutes of play.
Starlites once again tried to recover the lost ground but an 8-0 run in the last rubber placed Depiro firmly on the driving seat as now the gap between the sides rose to almost 20 points, 58-39, with only less than a handful minutes left to play.
The Mtarfa side controlled the tempo and ascertained their fourth league win and now stand two games behind leaders Hibs whom they meet on Sunday.
Caffe Moak Luxol 58
(15-19, 9-16, 18-9, 14-14)
Hibs: M. Buhagiar, Y. Bonett 7, S. Brincat 5, J. Abela 9, K. Jenkins 14, N. Farrugia, K. Caruana 19, J. Dabic, J. Borg Cardona 2.
Luxol: L. Fenech Pace, S. Pace 9, N. Vella 4, H. Galea, S. Vella 2, A. Borg, P. Ellul 9, J. Diaby 20, S. Bonfiglio 2, A. Fenech Pace 2, J. Oramas 10.
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, I. Ciurariu, G. Barbara.
Starlites Naxxar 47
ARMS Depiro 65
(9-18, 15-14, 13-16, 10-17)
Starlites: A. Saliba 8, M. Riolo, D. Camilleri, S. Farrugia Tabone, M. Bonett 16, S. DeMartino 5, K. Portelli, M. Fenech 5, C. Vella, S. Wilke 5, S. Davies 1, C. Curmi 7.
Depiro: H. Johnson 30, M. Caruana 4, N. Agius 6, J. Xerri 4, J. Mallia, L. Duncan 7, No. Agius, C. Ciantar 4, N. Hili, N. Ebejer, N. Borg, D. Galea 10.
Referees: Z. Dobrosavljevic, I. Simic, P. Shoults.
Standings: Hibs 13, ARMS Depiro 11, Caffe Moak Luxol 10, Starlites Naxxar 8.