THE Bendigo Spirit is one victory away from back-to-back Women's National Basketball League championships.
Spirit scored a nine-point win in Sunday's major semi-final against Dandenong Rangers at Bendigo Stadium.
After scores were locked on 38-all at half-time, Spirit upped the intensity in the crucial third quarter.
The Spirit built on a six-point lead at a quarter to go to win 71-62.
Four-time Olympian and Bendigo captain Kristi Harrower had been kept to just two points in the first half.
Harrower kept on racking up the assists and the points followed in the second half.
By match end Harrower had scored 14 points, 10 assists and four rebounds.
Kelsey Griffin hit a game-high 19 points and 14 rebounds to again show why she is one of Spirit's most valuable players.
Other stars in Bendigo's win were Kelly Wilson, 14 points; Gabe Richards 13 points and 10 rebounds; and Sara Blicavs, 6 points.
Best for Dandenong were Jenna O'Hea, 16 points; Alice Kunek, 13 points and six rebounds; Brigitte Ardossi 12 points; Natalie Novosel 11 points and five rebounds; and Kayla Pedersen, six points and seven rebounds.
Dandenong will aim to rebound from defeat and gain another crack at Bendigo in the March 9 grand final on Spirit's court.
The Rangers take on Townsville Fire in next Sunday's preliminary final at Dandenong.
UPDATE: BENDIGO Spirit holds a six-point lead going into the final quarter of Sunday's WNBL major semi-final against Dandenong Rangers.
Spirit dominated most of the third quarter on the way to a 58-52 score at three quarter-time.
Bendigo's charge was led by gun guards Kristi Harrower and Kelly Wilson.
A nine-nil run put Spirit well in control, but the Rangers did fight back late in the term.
Spirit forward Kelsey Griffin has scored a match-hith 15 points, while Wilson is on 14.
Harrower has dished out 10 assists and scored eight points.
The Rangers attack was being led by Brigitte Ardossi, 12; Alice Kunek 11; and Jenna O'Hea 10.
Scores were 38-all at half-time.
The Spirit's strong defence limited the Rangers to just 15 points in the second quarter.
Dandenong started brilliantly to lead 23-17 at quarter-time.
Brigitte Ardossi scored 10 points for Dandenong in the opening quarter, but was kept scoreless in the next.
Spirit star Kelsey Griffin has a game-high 13 points and had great support from Gabe Richards 7, Sara Blicavs 6, and Kelly Wilson, 5 points.
Bendigo's four-time Olympian and brilliant guard Kristi Harrower has racked up eight assists.
The Rangers' best in the opening half included Jenna O'Hea 10, Alice Kunek and Natalie Novosel on seven points apiece.
The Bernie Harrower-coached Spirit leads the rebounding duels, 21-15.
The winner of this clash advances to a home grand final on March 9, while Townsville awaits the beaten team in next Sunday's preliminary final.
QUICK transition has played a big part in Dandenong Rangers gaining a six-point lead by quarter-time of Sunday's WBNL major semi-final against Bendigo Spirit.
Brigitte Ardossi has made a superb start on Spirit's court at Bendigo Stadium to score a game-high 10 points.
The Rangers lead 23-17 in contest where Ardossi, Natalie Novosel, 6, and Jenna O'Hea, 5, have starred.
Best of the Bendigo attack was Kelly Wilson on five points.