BOTH of Essex University's Blades basketball teams progressed to the championship knockout cup stages.

The men's team faced a strong Durham University side packed with experience from the United States in the last 16.

Playing at the Essex Sport Arena, Leigh Greenan dominated inside, earning the first points of the encounter from the free throw line.

A Matthis Kumpf drive and dish to Greenan for the finish was followed by a Findlay Wood three.

This saw Essex take the early initiative.

Sharp shooting from deep kept Durham in touch, before another Wood three ensured a one-point lead at the end of the first quarter.

A six-point unanswered run from the visitors saw an early lead established, before Wood and Tom Sadler found their range from deep to counter.

A late 7-0 run, led once again by captain Wood’s tenacity, saw the home side edge a gripping encounter 41-34 at the break.

A scrappy opening period to the second half resulting in numerous turnovers for both sides.

It was snapped by Durham as they found their rhythm, knocking down back-to-back scores.

Sloppy turnovers hurt the home side as Durham punished their mistakes before a Wood jumper and steal and finish saw the Blades down by six heading into the final quarter.

A strong finish inside from Greenan saw the lead cut to just four, before a controversial four-point play for the visitors halted the Blades' momentum. Despite a Sadler three from deep and a determined team effort, the opposition soon established a double-digit lead.

With their constant three-point threat, the visitors went onto win 83-66 and end the Blades' hopes of university competition silverware.

Seeking revenge, the Blades' women's team also faced Durham University two days later in the quarter-final stage of the same competition.

The visitors started the stronger, establishing an early lead before strong play inside from a combination of Blades players saw repeated trips to the free throw line and the lead cut to seven, with Durham up 20-13 at the end of the first quarter.

A relentless start from Durham in the second quarter saw them dominate rebounds at both ends of the court and punish the home side with three pointers as a 35-18 lead was established.

Coleen Leung stepped up for the Blades, driving at the heart of the Durham defence and picking up multiple scores to halt the momentum.

However, the Blades were down 45-24 at the half.

A resurgent Blades came out with purpose, with Jasmine Ogunjimi and Leung finding joy inside and initiated a 6-0 run to cut the deficit.

The visitors, filled with US talent, were resilient and continued to punish the home side, dominating the offensive boards and converting second chance points.

Despite a battling effort that saw the Blades match their opponents in the second half, Durham finished 79-58 victors, progressing through to the next round.