THE Bendigo Bank Spirit have made a clean sweep of their three games against the Adelaide Lightning in the WNBL this season.
The Spirit bounced back from Friday night’s overtime loss to the Sydney Uni Flames to defeat the Lightning by 18 points at the Bendigo Stadium on Sunday in what was their fourth game in nine days.
It certainly wasn’t a game for the highlight reel, particularly in the first half when neither side had yet reached 30, but the Spirit did what they had to in a 69-51 victory.
The win improves the Spirit record to 8-4 at the halfway mark of the season, while the Lightning are still winless, which includes three losses to Bendigo by margins of 18, 23 and 14.
The Spirit got the jump on the Lightning, racing to a 21-8 lead during the first quarter.
Blake Dietrick had a hot hand in the first quarter for the Spirit, scoring 10 points off the bench, including back-to-back threes.
However, neither team was able to find an offensive groove during the second quarter and at half-time the Spirit led 29-23 – hardly a scoreline reflecting a championship hopeful against a winless opponent.
At that stage the two sides had combined for just 21-of-68 shooting from the field – the Spirit 12-of-36 and Lightning 9-of-32.
But after a scoreless first half that was impacted by foul trouble, Gabe Richards gave the Spirit an offensive lift in the third quarter.
Richards was well fed by her team-mates in the post and scored the Spirit’s first nine points of the quarter.
And when Kerryn Harrington completed a three-point play, it sparked a 10-0 run by the Spirit that busted the game open as Bendigo built a 48-31 lead with 59 seconds to play in the term.
Imports Dietrick and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe finished with 14 points each to lead the Spirit scoring.
While Dietrick scored the bulk of her season-high points in the first quarter, Nayo-Raincock Ekunwe scored eight of her 14 in the last.
Richards finished with 11 points, all scored in the third quarter, while Heather Oliver contributed 11 points off the bench.
After scoring three of the first five points of the game, captain Kelsey Griffin didn’t add to her tally again until the final quarter before finishing with eight, while also dishing off five assists.
All 12 Spirit players who suited up took to the court, including Ebony Rolph for her first game-time of the season.
Adelaide captain Laura Hodges paced the Lightning with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The Spirit returns to the Bendigo Stadium next Sunday to host Dandenong.