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Depiro hold off Luxol to stay in charge in women’s final series

Depiro's Jose Ann Johnson (right) looks for a shot under Luxol's Sarah Fenech Pace's contest. Photo: Jonathan Borg

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL    57 (0)

DEPIRO             63 (2)

(20-14, 8-10, 9-19, 20-20)

Depiro are one win away from the MAPFRE MSV Life Women’s League title after another strong showing earned them a second straight victory over Caffe Moak Luxol.

It was another inspired outing for Depiro’s Kristy Galea who topped the scoring charts with 19 points as Nicole Agius followed with 13 and Jose Ann Johnson added 11 and 15 rebounds for a double-double.

Rounding off the double figures for the Mtarfa side, Sophie Abela who finished with a double-double of 10 points, 12 rebounds.

As for Luxol, import guard Tayler Bennett led with a 17 points – 10 rebounds double-double with Fenech Pace duo Sarah and Anna following with 15 and 11 points respectively.

Galea opened the scoring with one of two freethrows before Sarah Fenech Pace gave Luxol the lead with a pair of shots from the line herself.

After missing the first shot of the day, Galea made up with a long-distance effort but Fenech Pace was on target to score from three-point range as well on the next play.

The next minutes turned out to be a balanced encounter with Luxol showing more firepower than what was visible in Game One, going on to take a six-point lead at the first buzzer.

Sophie Abela fired in the first basket of the second quarter with Claire Ciantar hitting from mid-range as the pair of Depiro co-captains made it a two-point game. Ciantar was on hand for a contested layup to tie proceedings a few seconds later.

Defence played its part to keep any side from taking over but Luxol reopened their advantage to six once again with a Fenech Pace jumpshot before Abela downed it down to four before half-time. 

After the change of ends, Nicole Agius and Galea combined for six points to turn around the lead immediately as Depiro came out guns blazing into the second half.

Their defence was back to its best but Luxol hit their first third-quarter points with a Tayler Bennett freethrow and a mid-range jumpshot from Josephine Diaby to take the lead again.

But it was Depiro’s quarter as they shifted the advantage back to their corner for a six-point margin at the end of the third quarter.

Julia Xerri opened the final rubber with second-chance points off a Leanne Sciberras effort. But Fenech Pace duo Sarah and Anna combined for six to make a two-point game yet again.

Jose Ann Johnson stopped this Luxol run with a layup before a Nicole Agius triple to push Depiro’s lead back up to seven.

Luxol’s task was already an uphill struggle but with both sides in the bonus for the final minute of the game, one bad step on defence meant a chance at the line for the opposition.

With the margin close to 10, Luxol opted to send Depiro to the charity stripe rather than risk them shooting triples. This reduced the gap slightly as the Mtarfa side began to miss their shots while a Lisa Fenech Pace brought back hope for the Violets late in the game.

Vanya Baldacchino made it a four-point game with a Luxol fastbreak 17 seconds from time but freethrows from Johnson and Abela ensured Depiro as they went 2-0 in their series tie.

CAFFE MOAK LUXOL T. Bennett 17, M. Mercieca 2, L. Fenech Pace 5, S. Fenech Pace 15, J. Diaby 2, V. Baldacchino 3, S. Farrugia 2, A. Fenech Pace 11.

DEPIRO S. Abela 10, N. Agius 13, J. Xerri 2, L. Sciberras 2, C. Ciantar 4, J. Borg 2, J. Johnson 11, K. Galea 19.

Referees B. Vassallo, N. Azzopardi, N. Da Silva.

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