Spirit slump to last with loss

Joel Peterson | Bendigo Weekly | 27-Oct-2017

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Spirit coach Simon Pritchard was left frustrated by a third-straight loss.
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A FLAT Bendigo Spirit hit the bottom of the Women's National Basketball League table tonight after a 79-66 loss to the Adelaide Lightning.

With Spirit import Betnijah Laney ruled out pre-game due to injury, the Lightning opened the match with a 6-0 run that forced Simon Pritchard into a timeout within the opening two minutes.

In a game that failed to reach any great heights, Bendigo's first half start was matched by a lack of intensity either side of half time.

After not leading at any stage, the Spirit had pulled the margin back to three points nearing half time.

But Bendigo came out dismally following the interval as Adelaide opened up a game-high 19-point lead in the third term.

The hosts trimmed the margin to 10 points with a minute left after a pair of Nadeen Payne buckets and a Heather Oliver make, but Adelaide closed the game out with a Colleen Planeta triple to win by 13.

A domination on the glass helped the visitors' cause, finishing with a plus-19 advantage on the glass and a plus-16 advantage in points in the paint.

Ruth Hamblin led the way, tallying 15 points and a huge 17 boards coming off the bench.

More impressively, the Lightning did most of their work without star Abby Bishop, who took just two shots for the match.

Planeta scored 18 for Adelaide, with Natalie Novosel adding 15 and Nicole Seekamp 13.

Bendigo was well-served by Nadeen Payne (17 points), Kelsey Griffin (10 points, seven rebounds) and Rachel Banham (13 points, five boards, seven assists) but shot a woeful 31 per cent as a team.

Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said defensive lapses and coming out flat at the start of the game and after half time were largely to blame for the loss.

"Players aren't switched on to start the game defensively, it keeps happening," he said.

"It keeps happening at the start of the game, they get down by seven or eight points, and I have to call a timeout and say what I said two minutes before the start but now we have a seven- or eight-point deficit.

"And then we had six points at the start of the third quarter. There's 14 points and we lose by 13.

"It's just not good enough."

The Spirit started brightly, but their early lack of finishing ability at the rim was a sign of things to come.

In a positive for the Spirit, young gun Ebony Rolph was handed early minutes and provided some much-needed energy off the bench.

"I always come in with a mindset to work my butt off. I'm not going to get too many opportunities and it's not going to be extended minutes, I know that, so I go in there and try my hardest," she said.

"I try to do the best that I can to try and lift the other girls."

Unfortunately for Rolph, there was plenty of lifting to do.

Without Laney, Ash Karaitiana stepped into the starting lineup but went 3-of-16 from the field including five straight misses to start the second half.

Bendigo now sits on the bottom of the table with a 1-5 record.

The Spirit host Melbourne at Bendigo Stadium next Saturday night from 7pm.

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