After the drama of the women’s varsity basketball, expectations were high for the University of Nottingham fans in a Capital FM arena that continued to fill. Nottingham had won 4 out of their 7 fixtures in the build-up to this highly anticipated game and had every reason to be confident against Nottingham Trent.
It was Trent that came out of the blocks quickest and they quickly moved 10-2 up within the opening minutes thanks to a good start from Benjamin Hallam. As the opening quarter progressed, Nottingham came into the match and it began to even itself out. Aaron Brown, who has represented Northern Ireland at various levels, did not disappoint as he hit his third consecutive three pointer to give Nottingham an 18-16 lead which they will have been delighted with considering the strong start Trent displayed.
The second quarter saw Trent regain the lead early on and it was a deficit that would have been greater for Nottingham had it not been for two solid blocks from centre, Mark Furmstom. A three pointer from Nottingham’s Boris Dimitrov kept the away side within touching distance of their opponents but the failure to finish chances under the basket cost Nottingham. Ibey Ajgabe missed three out of four free throws in the quarter and with five minutes left to play in the half Trent were leading 30-24 with captain Jojo Osei Owuso Ansah playing extremely well in what is his final varsity appearance for Nottingham Trent. The gap only widened and it looked like Nottingham were struggling to stay in touch with Trent before Aaron Brown was able to reduce the deficit but Trent finished the half seven points clear of Nottingham at 42-35 and playing well.
The third quarter was frustrating for Nottingham as the noise from the Trent crowd grew and they continued to miss important rebounds and free throws. Again Nottingham had to really fight to keep in touch with their opponents who started the half well and led 48-39 before Nottingham’s Ibey Ajgabe hit form and began to reduce Trent’s lead. The frustrations remained however as Nottingham continued to miss from close range and the quarter finished with Trent leading 53-47, the gap having been narrowed only slightly leaving the away side a lot to do in the final quarter of the game.
The University of Nottingham’s fans did their best to lift their side and it appeared to be working as they started well having reduced the gap to 53-50 within the opening 90 seconds of the quarter. Two free throws from Boris Dimitrov reduced the lead to just one point as the tension in the arena increased and the previously confident Trent fans began to doubt themselves and their team just slightly. The comeback was well and truly on when Victory Ezeofor put Nottingham in the lead for the first time in what seemed like an age. A thrilling final quarter saw Ibey Ajgabe and Jojo Ansah dominate for both sides and seemingly taking it in turns to score. With 3 minutes to go, Trent called a time out as a string of sloppy passes gave Nottingham chances. With just over two minutes to go, Nicholas Guiffray and Mark Furmstom scored to open up a nine point gap for Nottingham. Ajgabe continued to score for Nottingham and when Aaron Brown scored two free throws to make the score 79-67 with a minute to go, the Nottingham fans could finally celebrate what was eventually an 83-70 victory for the away side and a remarkable comeback which gives Nottingham a 2-1 lead in the varsity series. Ajgabe was the player of the game for Nottingham and Jojo Ansah for Trent and both players contributed to a brilliant game of basketball watch by a crowd of just over two thousand.