Spirit locks down on Rangers in WNBL victory

THE Bendigo Bank Spirit set an early-season defensive benchmark after strangling the Dandenong Rangers in their WNBL clash on Saturday night.

Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Spirit on Saturday night. Picture: CRAIG DILKS

Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Spirit on Saturday night. Picture: CRAIG DILKS

The Spirit gave up just 45 points to the Rangers – the equal-fifth best defensive effort in the 219-game history of the club.

The Spirit won 59-45 at the Bendigo Stadium and have now made a 2-0 start to the season.

Dandenong had no answer to the defensive pressure applied by the Spirit as Bendigo beat the Rangers at home for the 10th time in a row.

The Rangers shot the ball at just 26 per cent from the field – 18-of-68 – and had no player score in double figures.

At half-time when the Spirit led 36-20 the Rangers were a woeful 8-of-40 from the field, with only three of those shots having been from three-point range. 

“Everybody knows how tough Dandenong plays and to keep any WNBL team to 45 points… the job the girls did defensively was fantastic,” Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said.

The Spirit were never headed in the contest after Kelsy Griffin nailed the first points of the game with a three.

Griffin’s shot was one of just three three-pointers made for the game as both teams struggled from long-range, combining for only 3-of-19.

Having been slow out of the blocks against Adelaide the previous week, this time it was the Spirit who set the pace, leading by as many as 19 points during the second quarter, while their advantage later grew to 23 during the third term.

Canadian import Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe was a bundle of energy at both ends of the court for the Spirit, backing up her debut match double-double last week with another as she had game-highs in both points (18) and rebounds (12).

Griffin (14) was the only other player to score in double figures for the Spirit, who after struggling at the free-throw line last week shot a much-improved 9-of-12, including making their first seven shots, while they dominated the rebound count 41-28.

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