Press Association Man-of-the-match Williams muscled over from a close range ruck to decide this inter-provincial clash, handing Connacht their first defeat in eight home games and keeping his own side on the winning trail. A tight first half ended 3-0 in Ulster’s favour, with Paddy Jackson’s 32nd-minute penalty putting Les Kiss’ Toulouse conquerors in front after they had weathered an early storm. Nick Williams’ 76th-minute try ended Connacht’s unbeaten home record this season as Ulster won a closely-fought Guinness PRO12 derby 10-3 at the Sportsground. After two penalty misses from Craig Ronaldson, replacement out-half AJ MacGinty booted the hosts level while Ulster centre Luke Marshall was in the sin-bin. However, number eight Williams ensured the men in white had the final say. Connacht hammered away at the visitors’ defence during a typically frenetic opening in Galway, two line-out mauls getting them within sight of the try-line and their backs also pressing out wide. Ulster’s defence held firm, though, and Pat Lam’s frustrated charges had nothing to show for a 72 per cent share of possession. Entering the second quarter, Ulster’s centre duo Stuart McCloskey and Marshall began to press with ball in hand. Connacht’s tackling was ferocious at times, Kieran Marmion catching fellow Ireland international Robbie Diack with a thunderous effort, but it was a cagey affair for the most part with handling errors blunting both attacks. Hands in the ruck allowed Jackson to kick Ulster in front from long range, drilling over from a left-sided position, and their young left winger Rory Scholes imposed himself with a couple of quick-witted runs. Ronaldson, who had missed a difficult first-half kick, sent a 49th-minute penalty to the left and wide and Ulster were able to absorb the pressure very effectively, a scrum penalty sending them back into the Connacht half. Scholes threatened again, this time on a midfield burst, but Marshall’s cut-out pass landed at the waiting Andrew Trimble’s feet and the experienced winger knocked on. Marshall soon saw yellow, earning 10 minutes in the sin for tripping MacGinty as he launched a breakout from deep. The westerners were thwarted until a scrum penalty allowed MacGinty to kick them level from outside the 22. It was tit-for-tat fare until Ulster conjured up the match’s only try, quick ball from a scrum allowing Marshall to crash up close to the posts and Williams arrived in timely fashion to plunge over from the resulting ruck. Jackson’s conversion made it a seven-point winning margin.
“Honestly, this was the most confident game I’ve had all season,” Okongwu said per the Associated Press after USC’s win over the Beavers. “It was really fun coming out there and playing against a sold-out crowd.” USC is coming back from a two-game road trip in the Beaver State, where the Trojans fell to No. 12 Oregon in double overtime but triumphed over Oregon State. A couple of costly turnovers and mistakes late in the Oregon game caused USC to suffer their second Pac-12 loss, but the win over Oregon State proved the Trojans’ potential is still alive and well in the conference. Okongwu is top-five in the Pac-12 in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage this season and does not seem to show any signs of slowing down. He and the Trojans — the best in the Pac-12 in rebounds and the worst in free-throw percentage and turnovers committed — will attempt to stop a Utah team that currently ranks first in the conference in free throw percentage. Freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu has been a top rebounder and shot blocker in the Pac-12 this year. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan) Having won four of its last five games and sitting in a tie for second place in the Pac-12, the USC men’s basketball team will face Utah Thursday night at Galen Center. Led by phenom freshman forward Onyeka Okongwu, the Trojans are set to play a Utes team led by sophomore forward Timmy Allen that is coming off two straight wins against Washington State and Washington. USC will also have to look out for Utah redshirt freshman center Lahat Thioune in the paint, as the Senegal native is the Utes’ leader in field goal percentage at 72.2%, making him their most efficient player while averaging just 17 minutes per game. Expect Allen, Thioune and freshman guard Rylan Jones to run a majority of Utah’s offense and look for Okongwu and Rakocevic to make important plays near the rim on both sides of the ball. Senior forward Nick Rakocevic is 8-15 from beyond the arc, leading USC in 3-point percentage. (James Wolfe | Daily Trojan) “Rakocevic and [Okongwu], those guys are a load inside,” Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak said at a press conference Tuesday. “[USC is] an elite rebounding team in our league, shot-blocking team. They provide a great post presence for those guys and then they’ve got a bunch of capable shooters and athletes.” USC head coach Andy Enfield and his team should also expect Utah to both commit and draw lots of fouls given the two teams’ shooting percentages from the charity stripe. The Trojans have arguably struggled at the free-throw line more than they have anywhere else on the court this season. However, as Enfield said after the Oregon State win, USC’s resilience both at home and on the road “is a credit to [USC’s] players” at this point of the season and is what has helped the Trojans catapult themselves into a tie with No. 20 Colorado for second place in the conference. The crowd of more than 9,000 in Corvallis, Ore. was in for a treat as they got a chance to watch a united USC team that has excited college basketball fans with acrobatic plays from Okongwu and freshman guard Ethan Anderson, a clutch comeback win against Stanford led by sophomore guard Elijah Weaver and solid 3-point shooting from senior forward Nick Rakocevic and redshirt senior guards Quinton Adlesh and Daniel Utomi. USC and Utah will tip off Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Galen Center.
Nigerian players continued their supreme form at the West and Central Africa Junior Qualifiers in Lome, Togo notching series of wins over the weekend in the tournament featuring 111 players from 11 nations.The performance of the countries players is rewarded with qualifications into the main draw which serves off today.Of the 12 Nigerians at the tournament which serves as CAT Zone 2 qualifiers for the African Junior Championship in South Africa in March, nine players have already qualified as at end of matches on Saturday evening.Among them are Oyinlomo Quadri, Marylove Edward, Michael Osewa, Michael Ayoola, Wilson Igbinovia, David Dawariye,In the girls 14 and under, Toyin Asogba beats Tomegaah of Ghana 6-3, 6-4 while Osewa saw off Dylan Bruce of Benin 6-1, 6-2.Marylove defeated Aghobovia of Ghana 6-0, 6-0 while Dawariye also defeated Kpodeziaou of Benin Republic 6-1, 6-3,Igbinovia on his part defeated Bokini of Benin 6-4, 6-3 to also advance.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram