A DEPLETED Bendigo Spirit has endured a tough restart to their WNBL season, losing for the second time in three days against the Canberra Capitals on Sunday afternoon.
The 94-60 loss in Canberra came on top of Friday night's 10-point loss to the Townsville Fire at Bendigo Stadium in what was their first game for a month.
An already tough ask against the might of the Capitals without Leilani Mitchell (pregnant) and Tessa Lavey (health and safety protocols), was compounded by an ankle injury to star shooting guard Maddie Garrick in Friday night's loss to the Fire.
The 29-year-old did not suit up for the Spirit in Canberra, leaving Cassidy McLean to make the start in her absence.
The Spirit trailed by nine points at quarter time and by 19 at the half, but were never a match for the home side in the second half, eventually going down by 34 points as the lack of numbers and their stars took its full toll.
Not for the first time in recent years, former two-time Spirit championship star Kelsey Griffin inflicted plenty of damage on her old team.
Griffin, a four-time Spirit MVP, scored 16 points and nabbed eight rebounds, with nine of her points and seven rebounds coming in the first half when the game was up for grabs.
Picked earlier in the week in the Australian Opals training camp squad ahead of next month's FIBA World Cup qualifiers, Jade Melbourne led all Capitals players with 19 points, while Brittany Sykes and Alex Bunton each contributed 16.
Sykes led her team with eight assists.
A brave effort by the Spirit was led by Opals squad member Anneli Maley with 15 points and 11 rebounds, both team-highs and an excellent follow-up to her 18-point performance against the Fire on Friday night.
Megan McKay was the only other player to hit double figures with 11 points and six rebounds, while Alex Wilson and Cassidy McLean each scored seven points.
A largely youthful and inexperienced Spirit bench contributed 18 points, in contrast to the Caps' total of 45.
At no point during the game did the Spirit lead the Capitals.
They will have little time for reflection, with their third game in five days scheduled for Tuesday night in Bendigo against the Sydney Uni Flames.
Spirit coach Tracy York could not fault her team's endeavour, after they toiled hard against the odds.
But in the end the absence of Mitchell, Lavey and Garrick was a bridge too far.
"Three starters down - it was just too tough," she said.
"With the numbers we have, we are just trying to punch above our weight.
"For us now, it's about looking ahead to the Sydney game. They are playing (Sunday afternoon) and we are scouting that.
"We've just got to get bodies right."
York said Garrick, who did not make the trip to Canberra, was some chance to return against the Flames.
Sunday's loss dropped the Spirit to 1-6 this season.
Following the Flames on Tuesday, the Spirit will play Perth Lynx next Saturday in Ballarat.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.