Spirit suffer heavy defeat

Betnijah Laney

Betnijah Laney

A depleted Bendigo Spirit suffered a 90-63 loss to the Melbourne Boomers in Geelong on Friday night.

The Spirit were without their captain and four time club MVP Kelsey Griffin, due to personal commitments, and the injured Gabe Richards.

The Spirit trailed the Boomers by 36 points at three quarter-time before having the better of the final term.

Boomers star Liz Cambage had 25 points and 14 rebounds in just 20 minutes of court time. Nadeen Payne led the Spirit with 16 points.

For the Spirit, it’s on to their home opener against Perth Lynx at 3pm on Saturday.

The clash at Bendigo Stadium will be the first for new import Betnijah Laney against her former WNBL side.

The 23-year-old guard said she was looking forward to renewing acquaintances with her former teammates and coaches, but then it would be quickly down to business.

“When we are on the court it’s all game,” she said.

“We spoke about breaking our season down into min-seasons and this weekend we need some wins.

“We’ve been really focused at practice and need to translate that into our game.”

Laney entered the weekend on a high after 19 points and six rebounds against Canberra Capitals.

But importantly for her she showed no signs of worry from the torn ACL, which derailed her 2016 WNBA season with Chicago Sky.

“It was exciting to get back out there, especially with being my first official game with the Spirit,” she said.

“Like any other player I have things I have to work on and improve going into the next games.

“Like finishing with contact – even when I get fouled, whether the refs see it that way or not, I need to make sure I’m focusing on putting the ball in the basket whether I get the call or not.”

Coach Simon Pritchard was expecting a tough encounter against Perth, with his side backing up for their second game in the space of 20 hours.