Nunawading Spectres and Bendigo Lady Braves go head-to-head in our game of the week, plus we preview every match.
By Grant Richardson
Game of The Week – Nunawading v Bendigo
Sunday 31st May- 12:30pm @ Nunawading Stadium
Despite losing Bec Cole to an ACL injury, the Nunawading Spectres showed their resilience with a 20-point win over Canberra last weekend while the Bendigo Lady Braves broke a three-game losing streak with a strong victory against Geelong.
Winning every quarter, the Spectres were never bothered by the Capitals Academy. Kate Oliver shot 11-18 for a season-high 27 points with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block while all eight players who hit the court scored.
That well-rounded team effort will be required every week from now on but the addition of Carly Wilson will also help. As a former Opal and veteran of 315 WNBL matches, Wilson is a noted scorer while her defence will also be integral, having won the 2010 SEABL Defensive Player of the Year.
Bendigo had to work hard to hold off Geelong, winning 71-67 after leading by six points at three-quarter time. Jane Chalmers (13 points, 11 assists) and Steph Bairstow (14 and 11 rebounds) both had double-doubles while Stacia Robertson led the way with 25 and nine boards (six offensive).
When these sides met in Round 3, Nunawading were victorious by ten points with a 32-16 second quarter doing the damage. Both sides had 20+ turnovers but the Spectres were able to balance those mistakes with 17 assists compared to Bendigo’s nine. Robertson recorded 26 points and 6 offensive rebounds in the match while Oliver had 21 and 3 steals.
The Lady Braves are the only side left unbeaten on the road but playing their first back-to-back of the year will test their stamina. Nunawading will miss the firepower of Cole but Bendigo’s Tessa Lavey and Kelly Wilson are both overseas with the Opals, leaving the point guard battle up in the air.
Robertson looms as the game-changer with the defence of Lucy Dawson integral to Nunawading’s chances. Bendigo are 3-1 when their power forward reaches double-figures so look for that as a barometer for the game.
Prediction: Bendigo by 4
Friday 29th May –
Hobart v Ballarat
Unbeaten at home this season, Hobart proved their worth on the road with two Round 7 wins in Albury and Dandenong. Trailing by seven with just over four minutes remaining against the Rangers, the Lady Chargers finished on a 12-2 run with Ellie Collins hitting the game-winning three. Ballarat fell to Dandenong by 25 last weekend and are winless on the road but do have four starters averaging double-figures.
Albury-Wodonga v Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence
The Lady Bandits could not back up their maiden victory from Round 6, falling to Hobart by a whopping 52 points. They have a chance to bounce back quickly as the CoE will be without leading scorer Katie-Rae Ebzery as well as Elyse Penaluna. The likes of Lauren Scherf and Ezi Magbegor will still make it difficult for the third worst shooting team in the league to record a winning score.
Saturday 30th May –
Brisbane v Albury-Wodonga
Brisbane split last weekend, surviving a furious finish from Sandringham before falling to Geelong. Sarah Graham (46.5%) is the league’s best three point shooter and is a threat for Albury-Wodonga who give up eight long range makes a game, the worst in the competition. The visitors will also be without Kristina Baltic who leads them in points (10.8) and rebounds (7.4) per game.
Bendigo v Dandenong
The roles were reversed for these sides last weekend as Bendigo ended their run of losses while Dandenong’s four game winning streak came to an end. The Rangers still have a three-game advantage on top of the East Conference but Jacinta Kennedy and Alison Downie will have to be at their defensive best to stop Robertson.
Kilsyth v Nunawading
After their seven game winning streak was halted by Launceston last round, Kilsyth will be looking to respond swiftly. Nunawading will be no push-over though with the centre battle between Oliver and Cassie Sant integral to each side’s chances. Sant will be eager to bounce back after scoring a season-low 12 points against the Tornadoes.
Geelong v Canberra
The only unbeaten side at home remaining, Geelong proved too good for Brisbane the night after falling to Bendigo on the road. Reaching double-figures just once prior to Round 7, Anna Teague averaged 19 points and 4.5 boards. After debuting for Canberra with 12 points and 11 rebounds last weekend, Julie Foster will provide size against a Lady Supercats front court that is undermanned without Sara Blicavs.
Launceston v Ballarat
The Tornadoes look to have their season back on track, sweeping Round 7 with victories over Frankston and Kilsyth. Their win over the Lady Cobras could be season-defining with Mikaela Ruef (25.5 points, 12 rebounds) averaging a double-double and Lauren Mansfield adding 17.5 points per game for the weekend. Ballarat fell to Dandenong last weekend, giving up 21 offensive rebounds. That could again be a problem for the Rush as they search for their first road win of the year.
Sunday 31st May –
Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence v Sandringham
The CoE will have a day’s break in between their two matches for the round while Sandringham have an eight day rest after falling to Brisbane by three last week. Brittany Smart continued her MVP-type season with 28 points and 12 boards but if Elizabeth Tonks and Mikayla Pirini can contain Smart, the Sabres will struggle to find other avenues to score against the home team.
Frankston v Canberra
Both sides will see this match as an opportunity for a rare win as they have combined for just four this year. Although the Capitals will be on the second night of a back-to-back, their two wins have come in that situation. After an incredible 42 points on 17-29 shooting last weekend, Kelly Bowen will provide a headache for the likes of Ellie Junod and Annabelle Lindsay.