Ricky Taylor's haul fails to halt Swords Thunder
They say nothing beats experience and that was the case yesterday when Belfast Star lost 92-85 to Swords Thunder in the All-Ireland Premier League at MCB.
Swords had knocked Star out of the National Cup last weekend but were trailing 46-45 at the break after a sensational display by American Ricky Taylor who had a massive 28 points in the opening half - 19 in the first quarter.
The momentum seemed to be with Star when they led by seven with a minute remaining in the half but Marcus McDaniel came up with a fine three-pointer before running the length of the court to sink a lay-up and help Swords take a 45-44 lead. Taylor responded with two free throws to give the Belfast men the edge.
But McDaniel's aggression was a hint at what was to come in the third quarter when Swords raised their team defence, suffocating Star and forcing them to repeatedly take outside options which they failed to convert.
As Taylor's scoring dried up, Thunder's excellent point guard, Isaac Westbrooks, along with Michael Goj and Kevin Lacey made Star pay for some quite passive defence, moving their side into a 61-52 lead with two minutes remaining of the quarter.
While Aidan Quinn and Conor Johnston were effective for Star offensively and Liam Pettigrew made a good contribution from the bench, Star continued to find it hard to penetrate the Swords defence.
And when the opportunities did arise to close the gap easy lay-ups were missed and poor decisions taken as their opponents just kept the scoreboard ticking over to seal victory.