Spirit cop 105-75 hiding from ladder-leading Flames

Nadeen Payne scores two of her 14 points on Thursday night. Picture: LUKE WEST
Nadeen Payne scores two of her 14 points on Thursday night. Picture: LUKE WEST

A POOR third quarter proved costly for the Bendigo Spirit in their WNBL loss to the Sydney Uni Flames on Thursday night.

Having trailed by as many as 12 points during the first half the Spirit battled valiantly to level the scores at 53-all with 7:05 remaining in the third term at the Bendigo Stadium.

At that stage it was game on as the Spirit – minus injured star Kelsey Griffin – were serving it right up to the ladder-leading, and defending champion, Flames.

However, all the hard work of the Spirit to fight back to level the scores was quickly undone as the Flames launched what proved to be a game-breaking 14-0 run that set them on the path to a blowout 105-75 victory.

The Flames outscored the Spirit 28-11 during the third quarter, which had also been an Achilles Heel for Bendigo in its previous game when outplayed 14-3 by Melbourne in the third term.

The Flames’ dominance was reflected in five players – Katie-Rae Ebzery (26), Belinda Snell (20), Carly Boag (18), Jennifer Hamson (14) and Asia Taylor (14) – all scoring at least 14 points, while the side was a perfect 15-of-15 from the free-throw line.

The height of Hamson posed a concern for the Spirit as she also hauled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

One of the highlights for the Spirit was Gabe Richards becoming just the ninth player in the WNBL to surpass 2000 rebounds.

Richards ended the match with six rebounds to go with six points.

Rachel Banham led the Spirit scoring with 21 points, and just as she did the previous week, her first nine all came from three-pointers.

Nadeen Payne (14), who ended the game with a bandaged head for a third-term cut, and Betnijah Laney (13) were the others to score in double figures.

The loss leaves the Spirit 2-6 ahead of a trip to play Townsville on Saturday night.