Pictured (clockwise from top left): 2022 Women's UBL team, 2022 Men's UBL team, Women's team pre-game introductions, Joel Rimes setting up to shoot a three against Latrobe, Layla Prince dribbling against Vic Uni
26 May 2022: Aaron McNaughton
An action-packed eight weeks of basketball concluded on 10 May as the 2022 University Basketball League regular season drew to a close.
Despite missing out on the finals in both the women's and men's competitions, the two University of Melbourne teams showed plenty of promise in the second season of the competition, with the men's team narrowly missing out on the top four, finishing in 5th place with five wins and five losses, while the women finished in 8th with three wins and seven losses.
Both teams had new coaches take the reigns in 2022, both from the Melbourne University Basketball Club. Grantley Bernard led the women's team, while Shaun King took charge of the men's team, both bringing a raft of experience and knowledge to each team.
Game 1 vs Federation University (away)
The opening games saw both teams travel up the Western Highway to Ballarat to face competition newcomers Federation University.
The women's team opened proceedings and were evenly matched in a tight first half, trailing by only 1 point at halftime. Federation came out firing in the third, extending their lead to 14 at 3/4 time. Despite 10 points and 10 rebounds from Bachelor of Design student Layla Prince and a whopping 16 rebounds from Biomedicine student Rachael Smith, Federation ran out winners 52-44.
A great all-around performance led the men's team to a 115-57 win in their opening match. They extended the lead at each break, led by captain Joel Rimes (PhD Immunology) with 22 points, Science student Mateja McKenzie with 17 points and 12 rebounds and Commerce student Matt Roseby with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Three others also reached double figures, though it was Monti Buck (Bachelor of Design) stealing the show with an incredible second-half dunk that had the crowd and online viewers with jaws dropped.
Game 2 vs Curtin University (home)
We welcomed visitors Curtin University Carnabys to the East Stadium of the Nona Lee Sports Centre for the opening home games.
Despite being on the second game of a back-to-back, the Curtin women's team got off to a fast start in the opening match, leading by seven at halftime. A strong third quarter from the Melbourne women reduced the Carnabys lead to four points going into the last. Curtin came out firing in the last and stretched their lead out to 16 points by the game's end, defeating Melbourne 50-66. It was a disappointing afternoon for the women's team who did a lot right but were let down by their poor shooting (16-60 FG, 26%). Layla Prince finished with another double-double (11 points and 10 rebounds) while Charlotte Miller (Bachelor of Science) had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists.
Looking to capitalise on their opening-round win, the men faced a Curtin team looking to grab their second win in their fourth game. It was a thrilling first half of offence from the Melbourne side, with the margin reaching 19 just before half-time. Curtin showed plenty of fight in the second, getting the margin back to five in the last quarter, though some clutch shooting in the last from Rimes (9 points in the final quarter) and Roseby secured the win for Melbourne 87-77. Rimes finished with a game-high 33 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, well supported by Roseby with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
Game 3 vs RMIT University (home)
The first Swanston Street Throwdown saw good crowds pack into the Nona Lee Sports Centre for both games.
Both women's teams went into the game looking for their first wins of the season, and it was Melbourne who started the quickest, scoring 29 points in the first quarter, their best single quarter for the season. The lead was 13 at quarter time, 14 at the half, 15 at 3/4 time and finished at 21 and a first UBL win for the Melbourne women's team, 73-52. The all-around performance was led once again by the dynamic Prince who scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds and was supported by Smith (13 points and 10 rebounds) and Biomedicine student Eliza Bannan with 14 points off the bench.
While the two women's teams were chasing their first win, the men's game was the opposite with both teams winning their opening two matches. The crowd had grown to over 100 in the stadium for tip-off, creating an exciting atmosphere for the game. In a hotly contested first half, not much could separate the two teams as they traded buckets at each end. A three-pointer from McKenzie with 4 seconds left in the third quarter gave Melbourne a six-point lead at 3/4 time. The last quarter was a different story though, as RMIT pegged back the lead and took it themselves, scoring the first 11 of the last. It was a disappointing end for Melbourne, losing 78-90. Rimes (25 points and 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals), McKenzie (15 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists) and Commerce student Will Bruhn (15 points) were the best for Melbourne in the defeat.
Game 4 vs Latrobe University (home)
In a week of local derbies, Latrobe University made the trip from Bundoora to Parkville on a Wednesday night.
The men's game tipped off first, looking to get back on the winner's sheet after the loss on Monday. The two sides had an enthralling contest in the inaugural UBL season where Latrobe came out on top. Unfortunately, the result was the same again, with Latrobe winning by 21 points, 70-91. The difference between the two sides was three-point and foul throw shooting. The visitors landed 10 threes compared to Melbourne's 5 while going 19/28 at the line to Melbourne's 9/14. Rimes was the top scorer again with 17, Physiotherapy student Kah Kenn Liew came off the bench to score 15.
Taking on the unbeaten Latrobe women's team was always going to be a tough ask, and giving up a big lead early made the job even harder for the Melbourne women's team. At halftime Latrobe led by 24 points, though the women fought back winning the third quarter and keeping pace in the last to go down by 20 points, 45-65. The fightback and tenacity in the second half was great to see, with the team notching up 12 steals. Other highlights included 14 points and 11 rebounds from Eliza Bannan and Layla Prince with 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 steals.
Game 5 vs Victoria University (home)
The final local derby of the season saw us welcome Victoria University to Parkville.
It was another slow start for the women's team in the opening game, with plenty of turnovers proving costly as VU got out to an early 11 point lead, before extending it to 19 at the halftime break. In a repeat of the Latrobe game, the team fought hard in the second half but it wasn't to be, going down 50-72. In increased minutes off the bench, Commerce student Elise Bailey scored 9 points and had 13 points off the bench, with Rachael Smith adding 11 points and 9 boards.
After losing their previous two games, it was crucial for the men's team to get a win to keep in touch with the top 4. The game turned out to be an offensive masterclass by each team, with 207 points being scored in the game, the highest during the entire UBL season. Unfortunately, it was VU who came out on top 96-111. Mateja McKenzie top-scored for Melbourne with 25 points and 13 rebounds off the bench, with Rimes (18 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists), Bruhn (13points) and Science student Josh McNally (13 points) pitching in to support.
Women's leading scorer Layla Prince (Bachelor of Design) against Victoria University
Game 6 vs University of Sunshine Coast (away)
Women's Highlights | Men's Highlights
After the Easter break, it was the first in a run of interstate trips as the teams headed north to Queensland to face Sunshine Coast.
The women's team welcomed back Danni Pisano (Master of Teaching) to the team for her first game of 2022, Pisano led the team in scoring in 2021. The slow starts once again hurt the team, with USC taking control in the first half, going into the break ahead by 19. The contest was evenly matched from there with not much separating the two sides. Pisano finished with 9 points in her return, Prince (13 points and 10 rebounds) and Smith (9 points and 12 rebounds) were the best for Melbourne in the 54-76 defeat.
It was a great team performance by the men's team in the second matchup, securing the 95-79 win. The 2021 match against USC saw Melbourne lose in overtime after being well in control, though they didn't make the same mistake this time around, leading from start to finish in convincing fashion. Six players ended up with more than 10 points, Josh McNally filled the stat sheet with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals, while big man Ben Fewster scored 17 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
Game 7 vs University of Technology Sydney (away)
Women's Highlights | Men's Highlights
The teams headed to Sydney for back-to-back games against UTS and Sydney.
Due to a few late omissions, the Melbourne team went into the women's game with only 8 players, making it tough against a very good UTS team. It was in the paint where UTS did their damage, scoring 48 points compared to Melbourne's 14. It was a tough shooting night for Melbourne, shooting 22% from the field in the 46-70 loss. Master of Public Health student Clare Fernandes led the team with 11 points and also notched up 3 steals.
Like the women's team, the UTS men's team were also very strong, only losing their opening 2022 match-up by 3 points to the University of Sydney. Melbourne started well, leading by 3 points at quarter-time, though things turned horribly in the second, losing the quarter 31-13 and all hopes of victory. Despite winning the two remaining quarters, Melbourne went down 80-90. Captain Joel Rimes led the way again with 29 points, including 5 threes.
Game 8 vs University of Sydney (away)
Women's Highlights | Men's Highlights
After an overnight stay in Sydney, the teams faced our oldest rivals in the University of Sydney.
After a tricky game the day before, the women's team came out firing against Sydney who sat second on the ladder. The shooting improved dramatically with Melbourne taking it to their opponents, especially inside the paint where they struggled the day before. In a close first half, Melbourne led at half time by 2 points. Sydney hit their shooting rhythm in the third taking the lead mid-quarter and extending it out to 9 points in the last. A late comeback gave the women a chance to tie things up with 8 seconds left, but unfortunately, Layla Prince's shot missed. The final score 61-64. Prince was fantastic throughout, ending up with a game-high 24 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals, aptly supported by Danni Pisano (16 points) and Rachael Smith (11 points and 15 rebounds).
The men faced an undefeated Sydney team looking to extend their winning streak. Ball security is paramount against a good side, and with 25 turnovers the men's team did themselves no favours. After an even first quarter, the Sydney team scored 38 points in the second to Melbourne's 22, 10 points directly off Melbourne turnovers. Sydney also did well to keep the lively Rimes in check, limiting him to only 6 points for the game and eventually running out 81-104 victors. Josh McNally top-scored with 18 points, including 4 from 5 from three-point land.
Josh McNally (Bachelor of Science) giving the assist against University of Adelaide
Game 9 vs University of Western Australia (home)
To finish off the season, the league celebrated inclusion and diversity with a league-wide Pride Round, with all players donning rainbow socks.
Needing a win to stay in mathematical final contention, the men's team started strongly against UWA Maali. Joel Rimes was on fire, scoring 17 points in the first quarter. It was a very tight game, with both teams answering each other's buckets. Going into the last quarter, Melbourne held a slight four-point lead. In another exciting display of shooting, Rimes went off again, scoring another 14 points in no time at all, leading Melbourne to an impressive 95-82 victory. Rimes finished with a mammoth 43 points (8-13 from three).
The women's team fancied their chances against UWA who sat two places above them on the ladder. The team were at full strength and started strongly, with Layla Prince scoring 11 points in the first quarter. UWA trailed by a point at quarter-time and came out firing in the second, outscoring the Melbourne side by nine to take an eight point lead into the break. Melbourne came out firing in the third, Eliza Bannan (16 points) showed great athleticism on multiple plays, driving to the basket to create plenty of opportunities on offence. Danni Pisano (17 points) was pivotal too, scoring the go-ahead basket and leading the team to their second win of the season 55-53.
Game 10 vs University of Adelaide (home)
The final games of the season welcomed league newcomers the University of Adelaide to Melbourne for the second pride game of the week.
After their win the night before against UWA, the men's team needed to beat Adelaide convincingly for a chance at the semi-finals. They would also need other results to go their way to scrape into fourth position. For Adelaide their task was simple, win one of the last two games to secure a finals berth, so it all was to play for. You could tell a finals birth was on the line, both teams matching the other throughout. After a few quiet shooting games, Matt Roseby turned it on early, scoring 18 points in the first half, though it was Adelaide who led by 6 at the break. A big third quarter saw Melbourne take the lead, just before the break, captain Joel Rimes scoring 15 in the quarter. Will Bruhn was pivotal in the last scoring 8 points, while Roseby added another 9 to take his game total to 32 and sealing the Melbourne win 96-93. While the win wasn't convincing enough to qualify for the final series, the win was a great end to the season as the team finished up with 5 wins and 5 defeats to finish 5th.
Looking to follow up their great win from the night before, the women's team matched up against an Adelaide side looking for their first win in their debut season. And come out firing they did, opening up a 15-point lead at quarter time, then extending it out to a 35-point lead at the half. It was a dominant performance which showed plenty of promise and excitement for next season. The rebounding performance was particularly dominant, with Melbourne pulling down 81 to Adelaide's 42. Three players secured double-doubles, Ainsely Nicholls (Bachelor of Science) had a mammoth 20 rebounds to go with her 11 points, while Elise Bailey (13 points and 13 rebounds and 6 blocks) and Rachael Smith (10 points and 14 rebounds) were impressive. Layla Prince finished off her great season with a team-high 15 points as Melbourne ran out 88-43 winners. Back-to-back victories made it 3 in total for the season to go with 7 defeats and an 8th place finish.