A VINTAGE performance from Gabe Richards has ensured the Bendigo Braves women a 16th consecutive SEABL victory.
Richards turned back the clock by scoring 36 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, as the Braves defeated a talent-laden Launceston Tornadoes 95-81.
The two-time WNBL championship centre scored 11 points in the opening quarter and backed-up with 12 in the second as the Braves turned a two point quarter time deficit into a match-winning 15 point lead at the main break.
The Tornadoes, whose roster includes three WNBL stars, had no answer to the dominance of Richards and her long-time team-mate Kelly Wilson (14 points, 16-assists, 11 rebounds).
More than half of Wilson’s game-high 16 assists were directed the way of Richards, who added 13 second half points.
Her game-high 36 points were delivered in just 24:19 minutes of court time.
In an ominous sign for the Braves’ rivals, Richards, who has played 11 of 16 games this SEABL season, appears to be going from strength-to-strength.
“I had a bit of a niggling calf injury early on and we just sort of nursed it through, so hopefully it stays away. It felt great tonight (Saturday) though,” she said.
“We had a real focus to get the ball inside and I had a bit of a mismatch all night, but I was lucky to get on the good end of a few passes from Kelly.
“Years of playing together really shows. I could hear their coach yelling out a lot of the time where the ball was going to go, but it still went there.”
With 16-straight wins in their possession ahead of this Wednesday night’s game against Ballarat Rush, Richards believed there was no cap on how much the Braves women could achieve this season.
“Everyone keeps telling us we have to lose one, but that’s not we’re thinking,” she said.
“We are really enjoying playing together; we’re aggressive, we’re hungry and we want to win.
“We have great leadership from both (head coach) Megan (Moody) and (assistant coach) Eleanor (Haring) and it’s a fun environment, so why should we lose?”
The Braves had four players finish in double figures.
SEABL player of the month for June, Nadeen Payne scored 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Ash Karaitiana finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
Tornadoes coach Derrick Washington could not have been more impressed by the league leaders.
“My hat’s off to Bendigo – they’re one heck of a solid team,” Washington said.
“They make you pay. They capitalise on their steals, they capitalise in the post.”
Washington, an assistant coach with WNBA team Dallas Wings, was left to lament his team’s inability
“We had 18 steals, that’s a very big number – and we turned them over 22 times,” he said.
“But we were only able to get 17 points off those 18 steals, but (theBraves) make you pay, the had 18 points off seven steals.”