JKL Dolphins keep UCU at arms length

Gritty affair. JKL’s Flavia Oketcho (right) attempts to get past Maimuna Nabbosa of Lady Canons. PHOTO | ISMAIL KEZAALA

JKL Lady Dolphins started the weekend with a hard-fought 74-63 win over title challengers UCU Lady Canons Friday night and ended it with victory over Nabisunsa on Sunday.

The two wins mean JKL are now on a run of 11 games without defeat and remain the only team with a clean loss column in the top division.

While the win over Nabisunsa would be expected, the game against UCU is expected to be the toughest for Henry Malinga’s charges and it turned out that way as the two sides needed overtime to be separated.

With the clock reading five seconds and JKL leading 61-59 after Stella Oyella had just made two free throws, the Lady Canons looked to be gone but Rose Akon dribbled past half court and managed to find an unguarded Milicent Otieno who beat the buzzer with an easy layup to send the game to overtime and the crows off their seats.

In Gazelles captain Flavia Okecho, five-time champion Ritah Imanishimwe and Hope Akello, however, JKL had enough experience to negotiate the extra five minutes and defeated the university side by 11 for their 10th win of the season.

Dominant bigs

2019 MVP Hope Akello continues to be JKL’s best player and went home with yet another Tusker Lite Player of the Game medal after registering a double-double of 19 points and 16 rebounds.

The centre continues to dominate inside the paint and has troubled whoever is guarding her throughout the season. On the other end of the floor was another dominant big, Rose Akon.

The centre left everything on the floor despite UCU falling short. She went home with a double-double of 28 points and 19 rebounds. 

Akon has proved too good for every match up presented to her and on Friday, it didn’t matter whether it was Akello or new signing Taidenciah Oluoch guarding her. She went about her business with a mix of mid-range and farcing the issue by attacking the basket. She was 13-0f-24 from the field.

And, when everyone expected her to rush for a three-ball with time running out, she had the composure to find Otieno for an easy basket to send the game to overtime.

Slow starters UCU

Throughout the season, UCU have been made to pay for their poor starts to games. While they can be credited for their ability to fight back and close most of the games, their sloppy starts have to be highlighted in all the four games lost this season.

On Friday, the university side trailed by as many as 17 points at one stage and had to rely on a strong fourth quarter show to force overtime.

Another slow start to overtime saw JKL limit Nicholas Natuhereza’s charges to a mere two points and score 13 on the other end to win by 11 points.

JKL had established their lead by taking the first quarter 17-12, the second 16-13 and the third 17-14 before a UCU fight back in the fourth.

There wasn’t enough support for Akon as, only Millicent Otieno (15 points), was the only other Canons’ player to score in double figures.

Evelyn Nakiyinji and Flavia Oketcho got 12 and 10 points respectively for the two-time NBL champions while new addition Oluoch picked 15 rebounds on her debut.

How the frames panned out

Quarters JKL UCU

First 17 12

Second 16 13

Third 17 14

Fourth 24 24

Total score 74 63