Bury St. Edmunds Basketball Club, sponsored by Kuda Automotive and Moreton Hall Community Centre, hosted the University of Nottingham in their first fixture since the Christmas Break, falling to a 63-74 defeat.
Before the game, Head Coach Arron MacDonald paid tribute to John Drury, a long-standing coach at the club who passed away on New Year’s Day, before a minute’s silence was impeccably observed in his memory.
The short-handed Bulldogs, missing Denby Ablard, Ed Spurling, Tom Guerrero and Deividas Gorodeckis, started slowly, failing to connect with a number of open layups and threes – but kept the game tight through the first quarter, as Adam Ball and Billy Smith began to find their range. Notts opened the second on a 14-5 run, until Ashley MacDonald and Matt Spurling stemmed the tide, as the sides exchanged baskets down the stretch to the half, with Notts holding a 25-3 lead.
As was the case in the reverse fixture, Notts started the second half on a tear, with an 8-0 run forcing Coach MacDonald into a quick timeout. From there, the Bulldogs held Notts to only four field goals in the remaining seven minutes of the third, as Brandon Marshall and Sonjay Williams supplemented MacDonald, Smith and Ball in an 18-9 scoring run, bringing the game back to 43-51 after three quarters.
Notts again started strongly in the fourth, opening up a 14-point lead before a three from Vytautas Girdzius briefly sparked the hosts into life, and Nottingham into a reaction – as a quickfire pair of fast-break scores and a three extended the lead again to 16 points with just five minutes to play. Another timeout from Coach MacDonald followed, and saw the Suffolk side hold their guests scoreless for four minutes, as Spurling, Girdzius, Ball and Smith combined for an 11-0 run and seeming to snatch momentum back for the hosts. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be – with two sloppy turnovers leading to fast-break points which ultimately put the game beyond doubt and meant that the Bulldogs’ winless run continues, although County Upper’s loss to Essex Rebels II has meant the Bulldogs move from the foot of the table.
Ball (19), Spurling /Girdzius (10) were the leading scorers for the hosts.
“We got outworked today”, said Coach MacDonald, “it’s something I hate to see, but have to give all credit to Notts. There’s no sense in saying we were short-handed… as they were too. They each did their jobs – putting a body on people at the right time, playing to their strengths and playing with discipline. We can’t say the same about our performance – it wasn’t to the standards we expect. It looked a lot like our guys had enjoyed their Christmas a little more than our opponents – and it showed in missed layups and free-throws. We were rusty. We’ve now got to re-group and get ready to play arguably the best-coached team in our division. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us or give it to us – we’ve got to fix this ourselves.”
Up next for Bulldogs is the visit of Anglia Ruskin University on Saturday 11th January at Skyliner Sports Centre, at 3:00pm, entry is £1.00. Visit www.burybasketball.com or find the club at @BuryBasketball on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more information.