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Spirits high as Lightning strike out

BENDIGO tonight claimed its second major scalp of the WNBL season when it stalled 2019 Grand Finalist Adelaide 67-54 in Bendigo, corking Lightning in a bottle to the tune of eight last quarter points.

With American centre Bec Tobin making her long-awaited return, Abbey Wehrung (pictured) sticking 16 points including 4-of-6 threes, and Demi Skinner converting some important baskets, Bendigo broke open an 18-18 deadlock after the first quarter to keep Lightning in a game of chasy all night.

Unfortunately for Adelaide, it shot at 34 percent in the first half to be down 30-35 at the main interval. But then after the interval, the Lightning shot even more woefully, undoing much of their good work at the defensive end.

They finished the game shooting at 33 percent (20-of-60), Lauren Nicholson with Adelaide's sole 3-pointer in a mortifying 1-of-16 return from outside the arc.

To compound Adelaide's woes, as its shooting confidence deteriorated, it's second-guessing accumulated, its eight-point final quarter accompanied by seven turnovers in the period, four to Nicole Seekamp, two to Steph Talbot and one to elevated starter Jennie Rintala.

In fairness to Seekamp and Talbot, both played 37 minutes on another night Adelaide's bench production was close to irrelevant.

Still without injured WNBA import and opening match star Crystal Langhorne (knee) and with Laura Hodges (calf) not expected anytime soon, Adelaide simply could not find the resources to continue their over-achieving road wins at Townsville and Perth.

Brianna Turner was again a major presence inside with a 21-point, 12-rebound double, plus an assist, two steals and two blocks to boot.

But with Nicholson's game hamstrung by a couple of questionable fouls - again - and Natalie Hurst reluctant to shoot the ball despite finishing as Bendigo's MVP last season (suggesting a clear familiarity with the venue), Adelaide's options dwindled and ultimately disappeared altogether.

Talbot put together a 13-point, 10-rebound double and Seekamp combined nine points with seven assists. 

It was slim pickings from there. Rintala, starting but still finding the pace at WNBL level, went 0-of-2. Hurst played 21:27 and went 0-of-3. Chelsea Brook was 0-of-3, Sarah Elsworthy 0-of-2 and Hannah Kaser, recruited for her shooting ability, played 9:29 and did not attempt a single shot.

Considering Adelaide contained Spirit import Marte Grays, averaging 15.8 points and 7.5 rebounds going into tonight's contest, to zero points and five boards in 32:30 of action, it clearly was not at the defensive end Lightning lost it.

Also hampered by foul woes, Tobin, who snared 12 rebounds, scored six of her 12 points in the final few minutes when the game already was decided, the Bendigo's "skins" having provided the pathway to a gold strike.

BENDIGO SPIRIT 67 (Wehrung 16, Tobin 12, Skinner 11; Tobin 12 rebs; Wilson 7 assts) d ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 54 (Turner 21, Talbot 13, Nicholson 11; Turner 12 rebs; Seekamp 7 assts) at The Spirit Cabinet, Bendigo Stadium.

GOING FORWARD: Lightning coach Chris Lucas, pointing the direction his team needs to go.

Nov 1

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.