Bendigo Spirit survive scare from Capitals

THE Bendigo Spirit's winning streak has increased to 14 games, but only just.

Even coach Bernie Harrower admitted his side was lucky to escape with the points in Friday night's 84-81 win over the Canberra Capitals at AIS Arena.

The WNBL's defending champions trailed by nine points at three quarter-time and didn't grab the lead until the final minute.

"At three quarter-time I thought we were going to drop that game,'' a relieved Harrower said after the win.

"We were playing so poorly and Canberra had outplayed us.

"Canberra was doing everything right and we were battling.

"I don't know what it is, but the past month we haven't been playing well.

"We got out of jail tonight."

A three-point play from Kelsey Griffin with 33 seconds to play gave the Spirit a two-point lead.

Two big defensive plays from Elyse Penaluna won the ball back for the Spirit and the Caps fouled Kelly Wilson.

The Spirit star made one of her two free throws which gave the Caps nine seconds to make a three-point play to tie the scores.

Nicole Hunt's attempt from well beyond the three-point line never looked like going in and the Spirit celebrated an 84-81 win.

After scoring just two points between them in the first half, Kristi Harrower and Kelly Wilson stood up for the Spirit in the final quarter.

Wilson finished the game with 18 points, including four three-pointers, five rebounds and four assists, while Harrower had an astonishing 14 assists to go with four points and three rebounds.

Gabe Richards and Griffin had 18 points each, while Sara Blicavs kept the Spirit in the game early with all of her 11 points coming in the first half.

The Capitals, who played much better than their 5-10 record suggests, were best served by Hunt, who scored a season-high 24 points, including six three-pointers.

The Spirit face an even tougher task on Saturday night when they host the third-placed Melbourne Boomers.

"It's going to be a test for the girls because they'll need to play much better than what they did tonight,'' Harrower said.

"I would have liked to have given our starters more rest tonight, but in the end they had to play big minutes.

"For some reason it was very hot in the stadium here tonight as well, so the game would have taken a lot out of the girls."

The Spirit-Boomers clash starts at 7.30pm.

Canberra pushes Bendigo to the limit in thrilling finish

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