READ MORE – Overtime woes haunt Spirit in WNBL
SO CLOSE, yet so far.
It has become the frustrating tale of the Bendigo Spirit as they suffered their fourth-straight loss on Thursday night of a WNBL season that now has just one game left in it.
The Spirit were again beaten in overtime – this time by championship contender Adelaide at the Bendigo Stadium.
The Spirit’s four-game losing streak now features a pair of overtime defeats to Adelaide and Melbourne, plus a two-point loss to Perth.
READ MORE – Business as usual for Spirit coach Pritchard
Those three opposing teams are all playoff-bound, while the Spirit are languishing in seventh position with a 7-13 record that was at one stage 6-3 before the season went pear-shaped in late-November.
Thursday night’s 92-81 defeat to Adelaide was the Spirit’s third overtime loss of the season after also going down 71-67 to Melbourne on December 29 and 89-82 to Townsville on November 24.
In all three losses the Spirit had held the lead before their opponent scored the final basket of regulation to force the game into overtime.
On Thursday night it was Adelaide’s Nia Coffey who levelled the scores 76-76 after the Lightning had trailed by as many as eight points during the final term.
The overtime period was then all one-way traffic as the Lightning scored the opening 13 points to turn a game that they had spent the bulk of trailing into a comfortable 11-point victory.
In their three overtime defeats the Spirit have been outscored 36-14 overall.
“Getting that first basket in overtime is so vital and we couldn’t get that tonight and we then turned the ball over four times and that was the end of it,” outgoing Spirit coach Simon Pritchard said.
“If you have the lead and the opposition makes a shot (to force a game into overtime) it does take the wind out of your sails, no doubt about that.
“But there’s a maturity that goes with that in that all it does is put an extra five minutes on the clock and younger players need to get over that and just be ‘lets get a couple of stops and get the first basket’, but we haven’t been able to and it has been tough.”
Thursday night’s game was a milestone for the Spirit’s Nadeen Payne, who played her 200th WNBL match, which also includes stints with the AIS, Townsville, Adelaide and South East Queensland Stars.
Payne paced the Spirit with 21 points, taking her tally for the season to 267 – the most by a Bendigo player.
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