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Luxol back level on top after Hibs victory

Luxol's Anna Fenech Pace holds the ball away from Hibernians' Marie Buhagiar. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

In a gameday divided into two days, Caffe Moak Luxol made the most out of Starlites’ week off to draw level on 19 points at the top of the standings with a solid victory over Hibernians on Monday.

Depiro remain at arm’s length of the leading duo, two points away after Fusion Quest could not honour their fixture on Saturday, leading to a walk-over.

Unfortunately, this was the bottom side’s second unfulfilled fixture, having already gone through the same in December against Starlites. With seven gamedays to go until the postseason, Fusion are six points below third-placed Depiro on 11 points which means any chance of a qualification for them will likely be over. Meanwhile, Hibernians are just a point above Fusion and it will take an impressive turnaround to give the finals any difference.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL 71

HIBERNIANS 53

(23-9, 19-23, 15-10, 14-11)

Josephine Diaby wasted no time in opening proceedings within the opening seconds of the game with a layup on Luxol’s first possession. Anna Fenech Pace added a close-range basket and a pair of made freethrows. Hibs coach Sandro Farrugia called a timeout when Sarah Fenech Pace made it eight after a rough start for the Paolites.

Julija Dabic finally ended Hibs’ duck but Luxol’s Tayler Bennet had her side up by 11 with 4.32 to go in the first quarter. Marie Buhagiar hit the Paolites’ first three-pointer before Maya Vella brought it down to seven. However, with Bennett in fine form to put up 13 points in the quarter, Luxol led by 14 at the first buzzer.

Accuracy was shifting onto Hibs’ shooting in the second quarter with the Paolites making it a single-digit game halfway through the quarter. However, three-balls from Mandi Mercieca, Sarah Sciberras, and Bennett kept the Violets at a safe distance as they led 42-32 by halftime.

Lisa Fenech Pace opened the second-half scoring with a mid-range jumpshot in her first 25 seconds on court. Sarah Fenech Pace added a quick layup to hand Luxol a 14-point lead yet again, a minute and a half into the third quarter.

Diaby’s efforts under the hoop on defence became a problem for Hibs, while her offence led Luxol to a high of 20 points ahead. Lyndsey Whilby managed to power through, while combining with fellow double-digit scorer Jasmine Abela to keep the Paolites within reach. However, with Luxol in the bonus, freethrows led to a 15-point difference ahead of the final battle.

Hibs’ Abela fired in twice from deep to start the fourth quarter between a Diaby reply for Luxol from mid-range. The Paolites guard led her side’s points from three-point range, level with Luxol’s Bennett as they both scored six long-rangers.

Luxol’s advantage gained before the start of the final set of minutes came to their rescue as Hibs were playing impressive basketball to try and overcome the deficit. However, the Violets managed to score just enough to keep up with their opponents’ pace and finish with an 18-point lead at the final buzzer.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 29, N. Vella, S. Fenech Pace 4, J. Diaby 20, A. Fenech Pace 5, M. Mercieca 2, L. Fenech Pace 8, V. Baldacchino, S. Sciberras 3, S. Farrugia.   

HIBERNIANS M. Buhagiar 6, I. Agius 5, L. Whilby 12, J. Abela 18, J. Dabic 4, F. Fabok 2, K. Calleja, M. Vella 6.

Referees B. Vassallo, N. Azzopardi.

OTHER RESULT

Depiro vs Fusion Quest: W/over

STANDINGS

Starlites JSD 19*, Caffe Moak Luxol 19; Depiro 17; Hibernians 12; Fusion Quest 11.

*Starlites did not feature in last weekend’s games.

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