VMU Basketball Shines in the Finals: Gold for Men, Silver for Women
On April 15, the VMU men’s and women’s basketball teams played in the finals of the Lithuanian Students Basketball League. Games ended differently – the guys won the game 86:74 and claimed first place for the third time in a row (ninth overall), while the girls were defeated 64:74 and had to settle for silver.
VMU men’s basketball team had to fight against the players of the Kaunas University of Technology (KUT), who trailed for most of the match but were never too far behind. In the second quarter, VMU students had collected a lead of 15 points, but the opponents managed to cut it to single digits before half-time, to 45:36.
Third quarter brought the tension back, as KUT minimized their deficit to just three points (53:50), but failed to come any closer as the teams exchanged baskets. One of the leaders in the first quarter, Povilas Butkevičius, fouled out in the third, but VMU still had no trouble raising their lead to 68:56 before the last ten minutes. Fourth quarter turned out to be just a formality, as VMU led by as much as 21 points, and KUT were kept at arm’s length, running out of time and stamina to overcome the rivals’ advantage.
The leading scorers for our university’s team were Mindaugas Kuzminskas with 27 and Marius Valukonis with 15 points.
VMU men’s basketball team is already the Goliath of the students’ league: they have won the championship 9 times in the last ten years, and came in second twice. The university’s team is four-time gold medalist of the European Universities Basketball Championship. They have won 3 gold (2006, 2008, 2010), 1 silver (2007) and 3 bronze medals (2003, 2004, 2009) in the SELL Student Games, a competition of Baltic universities.
VMU is associated with one of the best Lithuanian basketball teams, Kauno Žalgiris, which holds the most Lithuanian titles in history and is well known internationally for its competition in the Euroleague. Many present or former Lithuanian players of Žalgiris have studied at VMU and played for the university’s team, including Jonas Mačiulis, Mantas Kalnietis, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and others.
Women’s Team Took the Silver After Close Battle
In the final game of the Lithuanian Students Basketball League’s first women’s division, VMU faced the Lithuanian Academy of Physical Education (LAPE). The game was very close and intense, with neither of the teams clearly dominating throughout. In the first quarter, VMU girls had the upper hand with Marina Solopova leading in points. The second quarter began with VMU scoring 7 unanswered points in a row; Solopova made the audience get up with excitement by drowning a shot from almost 8 meters. Later the game became more level, but the lead was still in VMU’s hands; at half-time they were ahead by 4, 37:33.
The second half started better for the LAPE team, which managed to come out ahead for the first time, 37:38, forcing a timeout by VMU. Afterwards, our university’s players got their lead back and even built it to 8 points, but LKKA proved a worthy adversary for the finals and came back, trailing by just 3 before the last quarter.
The fourth quarter seemed to promise that the fierce fight would continue, as LAPE got their advantage back again – 53:56. Though VMU kept catching up, they were kept at bay with LAPE’s successful shots. LAPE’s defense finally managed to stop Solopova, who only scored 3 points in the last quarter. With only one and a half minute to go, VMU was already losing by 10, and, as it turned out, the winner was already decided.
The most notable player of the match was VMU’s Marina Solopova, who scored 34 points. In the semi-finals, VMU eliminated the players of the University of Klaipeda (86:78).
In the first floor lobby of K. Donelaičio g. 52 and at the Information Centre, an exhibition VMU Basketball: A Decade of Victories is open until May 16, offering a look at the VMU students’ achievements on the basketball court.