BENDIGO Spirit has nabbed its first win under new coach Tracy York, coming from behind to sink the Perth Lynx by 12 points at Bendigo Stadium on Sunday.
The Spirit clawed their way back from 10 points down at quarter time to defeat the Lynx 91-79.
One of a bunch of new recruits for the 2019-20 season, Carley Ernst dominated the match at both ends of the court to finish with game-highs in points (29) and rebounds (16).
The 25-year-old received solid support from import Marte Grays (15 points, five rebounds), Abbey Wehrung (14 points) and Tessa Lavey (12 points, five rebounds and five assists).
The Spirit were staring at a 0-3 start to the season if they could not get past the Lynx, but were able to build on an encouraging near-miss against Melbourne Boomers in a four point loss the previous night.
💥MVP & TOP SCORER💥— Bendigo Spirit (@BendigoSpirit) October 20, 2019
York, who has replaced Simon Pritchard as Spirit coach this season, was both delighted and relieved to get the first win under the belt.
"Certainly last night (Saturday) was a close loss and backing up so quickly - getting home at 1am and having to play that afternoon - to the girls' credit it was an awesome second half to bring it home," she said.
"The Lynx definitely came out firing, defensively giving up 25 points in the first quarter was too many. But then I think we locked down a whole lot better, which shows we have got that fight in us to get it back.
"A 26-13 last quarter for us and to win by 12 points, we are really happy."
After a sluggish opening term for the home side, in which former Spirit player Marena Whittle contributed eight points to give the Lynx a quarter-time lead of 10 points, the Spirit did not hit the front until with 3:41 remaining in the third term following a critical three from Wehrung.
Their lead was short-lived, with Perth holding a one point advantage at three-quarter time.
Another three from Wehrung to open the fourth quarter gave the Spirit the early momentum boost they were looking.
The Lynx were able to again level the scores twice, but a 13-2 run, underpinned by a pair of threes to Ernst, through the middle of the quarter well and truly turned the game in the Spirit's favour.
York branded Ernst's third game for the Spirit as 'outstanding'.
"She was a real presence for us at both ends and everybody else was just superb around her," she said.
"We had great efforts off the bench too.
"We are low on personnel at the moment - we are certainly down both our centres, " York added in reference to missing import Becca Tobin, who has missed all three games after sustaining a head-knock at training in the lead-up to the season-opener, and Gabe Richards, who was sidelined in both weekend games.
"It was great for different people to step-up. I suppose whether you call it 'small-ball' or not, we did play with a lot of guards and a lot of quick types," she said.
York had encouraging words for Teige Morrell, who only joined the Spirit on Friday as short-term injury replacement for Tobin.
The American power forward, who has been playing in the South Australian Premier League with Woodville District, scored six points and grabbed four rebounds in Saturday night's game against the Boomers.
"She only came in Friday and fr not having played in this league before she played a massive role on Saturday night and was really sold," she said.
"Today (Sunday) was a bit different as it was a bit more of a 'guardy' type game, so those minutes went to other people.
"But she has slotted in well and is a lovely person, gets on well with others and is a smart player. She picks up things really well and has filled a whole for us. We are very happy with her."
Former Spirit star Nadeen Payne was one of three Lynx players to finish with 15 points, alongside Whittle and import Imani Mcgee-Stafford, who also chipped in with nine rebounds and three assists.
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.