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Luxol stun Starlites as Depiro rise to top spot of Women’s League

Luxol's Tayler Bennett (right) looks for an opening against Starlites. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

With just one round of fixtures to go in the MAPFRE MSV Life Women’s League’s regular season, the standings experienced a reshuffle at its top as Depiro took over first place with a thumping victory over Hibernians on Saturday.

While Starlites JSD had led the league from the start, they found themselves in second after falling to defeat against Caffe Moak Luxol in the day’s opening game.

These results have now set up an intense regular-season finale as the top two sides face a decider for top seed this week, the winner heading straight to the finals.



(12-16, 10-21, 20-19, 25-15)

It was a shift designed for Luxol’s Tayler Bennett on Saturday as the import guard put up 39 points in 40 minutes, grabbing 18 boards for a double-double. She was also close to a quadruple-double with nine steals and seven assists.

At the other end, Starlites’ Paige Cannon led the charge with 31 points, just a rebound short of a double-double. Steffi De Martino continued the heavy lifting at the boards with 15 rebounds in an unusual low-scoring performance which saw her finish with nine points.

Luxol’s Shanice Farrugia (right) pushes the ball to a teammate against Starlites. Photo: Matthew Mirabelli

Cannon started the day’s scoring with a pair of freethrows seconds ahead of a mid-range jumpshot from Luxol’s Josephine Diaby to balance the game’s opening.

Lisa Fenech Pace gave Luxol their first lead of the encounter with one of two shots from the line before Diaby played an intelligent backward pass to Bennett in the paint for a close-range shot and the Violets’ first margin in the lead.

As expected, a clash between the top two sides of the past few years would be a balanced affair and this was once again the case with Santino Coppa’s clan holding a slender four-point advantage over the title holders at the end of the first quarter.

Another mid-range jumper restarted proceedings as Nolene Vella hit from the wing to make it a six-point game. Diaby was again on target with a basket from under the hoop before grabbing an assist on the next play after a Bennet steal to launch a near full-court pass to Vella who gave Luxol a double-digit lead.

Fatih Dedelioglu’s Starlites looked second-best throughout the first half and the second quarter saw them struggle in their offence due to solid Luxol defence. In fact, it was an Andie Saliba score four minutes into play that gave them their first points of the quarter, managing 10 by halftime as Luxol continued to press on for a 37-22 lead.

Similarly to the previous two quarters, Luxol were again first on the scoresheet after the change of ends when an unguarded Bennett shot from right inside the three-point line.

In a significant improvement by Starlites after the break, Cannon hit a complete and-one play before a pair of made freethrows to avoid her team’s deficit from growing to 20 points. The American centre combined with sharpshooter Steffi De Martino to counter Luxol’s onslaught. Albeit this, the Violets banked on their previous dominance to take a 14-point advantage into the fourth quarter.

The final quarter of play restarted with another Bennett score, with Maria Bonett replying instantly at the other end.

Luxol remained on the front foot as the clock winded down but in the final five minutes, Starlites clearly showed they would not die down and rally together to try and overcome a 16-point margin. The Malta champions brought the deficit down to four in the final minute of the game but had to settle for defeat at the final buzzer.

STARLITES JSD M. Riolo 4, A. Saliba 11, M. Fenech, M. Bonett 8, S. De Martino 9, P. Cannon 31, C. Cilia, C. Curmi 4.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 39, M. Mercieca 2, L. Fenech Pace 3, N. Vella 4, J. Diaby 11, V. Baldacchino, S. Sciberras, S. Farrugia 2, A. Fenech Pace 10.

Referees F. Ciurariu, D. Farrugia.



(6-34, 13-21, 16-28, 15-9)

It was different levels for the Hibernians and Depiro on Saturday as while Julija Dabic led the Paolite scoring with nine points, Depiro had no less than five players in double figures by the final buzzer. Jose Ann Johnson topped the game’s scoring with 18 points on 75% scoring from the field. Following was Kristy Galea with 15 points and Julia Xerri added 14, both finishing with a 66.7% field-goal percentage. Julia Borg and Claire Ciantar completed the double-digit scoring with 12 and 10 points respectively.

Depiro’s Johnson started the game’s scoring with a bank shot right inside the paint before Galea shot from deep, drove up for a layup, and then laid the ball to Xerri for another three-pointer as Adrian Baldacchino’s clan made it an uncontested double-digit lead.

Dabic eventually grabbed Hibs’ first basket with a freethrow around the third minute but Sophie Abela restarted the Depiro scoring which led to a 28-point first-quarter lead.

Leanne Sciberras hit from mid-range as the Depiro scoring continued as play resumed for the second quarter. Ciantar added another before a Borg freethrow made it a 33-point lead for the Mtarfa side with two minutes gone in the rubber.

A trademark of Depiro’s play this season, the side allowed close to no Hibernians attempts from inside the paint and the Paolites looked in trouble as none of their long-distance shots were falling, keeping them below double figures while their opponents were in cruise control.

Up by 41 points, Deprio finally conceded a basket through a powerful play from Dabic who created space under the hoop three times for six straight points as Hibs sparked into action. Scoring more points in the final five minutes of the first half than the entire first quarter, the Paolites went back to the dressing room for halftime down 55-19.

After the change of ends, it was Hibs who put themselves on the scoresheet first with a complete and-one from Fanni Fabok. Ciantar evaded the Paolite defence to respond with a layup as Depiro restarted their dominance over proceedings.

While Hibs were in much better shape than the first half, there was no stopping Depiro on Saturday and the latter pushed their lead up to 45 midway through the third quarter, and over 50 points a minute and a half later to force a Hibs timeout.

Johnson fired first in the fourth quarter with a mid-range jumper but with such a lead and so little time left, Depiro began to relax and Hibs took over, scoring consolation points until the final buzzer.

HIBERNIANS M. Buhagiar 5, E. Farrugia 7, F. Fabok 6, L. Whilby 5, J. Abela 6, B. Agius, K. Calleja 8, J. gauci, J. Dabic 9, M. Mendez 4.

DEPIRO S. Abela 6, J. Xerri 14, J. Mallia 2, L. Sciberras 4, C. Ciantar 10, K. Fenech Ishmael, J. Borg 12, J. Johnson 18, M. Micallef 3, N. Borg 3, K. Galea 15, L. Camilleri 5.

Referees Da Silva, M. De Flavia.


Depiro, Starlites JSD, Caffe Moak Luxol 27; Hibernians 18; Fusion Quest 13*.

*Fusion Quest did not feature in last weekend’s games.

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