An ideal strong start to Bendigo Spirit's 2019-20 WNBL season was hindered by a defiant Melbourne Boomers squad on Saturday night.
The Boomers took control of the game from the first quarter onward, leaving the Spirit hot on their heels for the remainder of the match, final scores 87-72.
At the end of the first quarter the Boomers held an eight-point advantage over the Spirit, 26-18.
The Spirit started to show strength in the second quarter managing to get a small run over the Boomers to take a brief minor one-point lead.
However, the Boomers composed themselves and regrouped to maintain an eight-point lead going into half-time, 45 over 37.
During the third quarter a strong effort from the Boomers saw the visitors outscore the Spirit 27-17 to take a more comfortable 17-point lead lead going into the final term.
However, the Spirit didn't want to go down at the Bendigo Stadium in front of the home crowd without a solid fight in the final quarter.
The Spirit continued to fight to the very end of the match and outscored the Boomers 18-15 in the final term.
However, come the siren it was the Boomers ahead by 15 points to notch their first victory over the season.
"We knew it was going to be tough and I'm glad the girls played hard and played it out," coach Tracy York said.
"We've always said this is the style we want to play, might not win every game, but we will fight every game."
Spirit's latest American import who is fresh out of college, Martè Grays was the team's MVP with 14 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
Shyla Heal put 14 points onto the board in addition to two turnovers, two assists and one rebound.
While fellow young-gun Demi Skinner also scored 14 points and took four rebounds.
It won't be long before the teams meet again, with the squads set to face off again next week for round two.
One of the biggest challenges for the Spirit came before tip-off had even taken place.
Becca Tobin was court-side on the bench after a knock to the head at training earlier in the week.
"Without Becca... she has been with us for the whole pre-season," York said.
"She could've played tonight but we didn't want to risk it, her health is more important.
"So being without her on the court, everyone else had to pick it up."
The current plan is for Tobin to return to playing duties next week when the Spirit and Boomers go head-to-head again for the round two re-match in Melbourne.
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