THE Bendigo Spirit surrendered a position of strength at three quarter-time against Melbourne on Sunday to remain winless after four games of their WNBL season.
Despite a stunning return to the side for her first game of the season from captain Kelsey Griffin - who had a chance to win the game on the buzzer - the Spirit were beaten 76-74.
Playing at the Melbourne Sports Centre, the Spirit entered the final quarter with a 12-point lead, 62-50.
However, staring at their first loss of the season the Boomers in front of a parochial home crowd launched a withering revival during the final term.
The Boomers went on a 13-0 tear to start the final quarter, going from 12 points down to one up after just over three minutes of play.
While the Boomers piled the points on during their 13-0 run Bendigo turned the ball over four times.
It took until 5:48 left on the clock for the Spirit to score their first points of the final quarter when Griffin won an offensive rebound and made a lay-up to put Bendigo back in front 64-63.
The Boomers though continued their offensive assault and with 2:40 remaining they had built a seven-point lead, 73-66.
But the Spirit wouldn't lie down and following a time-out Griffin converted at the free-throw line for a three-point play to drag Bendigo back within four points.
With 1:33 left on the clock the Spirit closed to within one when Griffin nailed a three-pointer and then when Alex Wilson drove to the basket for a lay-up Bendigo was back in front, 74-73, with 1:03 remaining.
In an exhilarating closing to the game Melbourne's Jordin Canada put Melbourne back up by one before Alex Wilson took a long-range three-point shot for Bendigo that missed.
With 12 seconds remaining and Melbourne clinging to a 75-74 lead Canada was fouled and went to the free throw line.
Canada made the first of her free throws, but missed the second.
The Spirit's Alicia Froling won the rebound and the Spirit got off the last shot of the game with Griffin taking a three, but it missed leaving Melbourne 76-74 winners.
Having missed the first three games of the season with a hamstring Griffin was enormous first-up.
She poured in a WNBL career-high 33 points and made her presence felt from the outset with 13 in the first term.
Griffin's 33 points came on 12-of-19 shooting from the field and included four three-pointers.
Froling hauled down a game-high 10 rebounds for the Spirit, while Abbey Wehrung nailed three three-pointers in her 11 points.
The Spirit stifled Melbourne in the first half, with the Boomers only scoring 27 points on 7-of-25 shooting from the field to the main break.
Sunday's nailbiting loss completed a tough weekend for the Spirit, who met both of the WNBL's undefeated teams.
Froling delivered a double-double for the Spirit with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Wehrung (15), Mehryn Kraker (13) and Alex Wilson (10) also scored in double figures for the Spirit.
The Perth side included Anneli Maley, who had spent the previous two seasons with the Spirit - the first in which she won the WNBL MVP.
Maley was a rebounding machine during her two seasons with the Spirit and dominated the boards on Friday night, hauling down 14 to go with 10 points.
The Spirit's next game is against Sydney at home this Saturday from 6.30pm.
WNBL ladder - Perth (3-0), Melbourne (4-0), Townsville (2-1), Southside (2-2), Adelaide (2-2), Sydney (2-2), Bendigo (0-4), Canberra (0-4).
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