Bendigo Bank Spirit Win Pair Of One-Point WNBL Thrillers

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The Bendigo Bank Spirit have rounded out their WNBL season with a pair of victories by a combined two points at the weekend.

After holding off a furious Melbourne Boomers’ second-half comeback on Saturday night to win by one point, 80-79, the Spirit also beat the Perth Lynx by one at the Bendigo Stadium on Sunday.

With the two victories, the Spirit end the season with a 13-11 record and in sixth position, having earlier been second at the Christmas-New Year break.

With what was the Spirit’s final shot of the season, Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe nailed the match-winner with 1.6 seconds left against Perth.

Raincock-Ekunwe connected on a two-point jumper from just beyond the free-throw line off a pass from Blake Dietrick that gave Bendigo a 73-72 lead.

Following a time-out the Lynx had one last chance to win the game, but Tenaya Phillips’ shot at the buzzer air-balled as Bendigo hung on for the season-ending win, which also cost Perth the home-court advantage for its semi-final series with Dandenong.

The Spirit fought back from a 12-point deficit during the third quarter after Perth started the term on a 14-2 run following scores being level 42-all at half-time.

However, the Spirit then went on a 14-2 tear of their own to charge their way back.

Perth led 63-60 at three quarter-time, before a thrilling final term in which Bendigo at one stage built a 69-65 advantage.

But Perth wouldn’t lie down and later hit the front again, 72-71, when Sami Whitcomb made a lay-up in what was a lead the Lynx would hold until there was less than two seconds on the clock before Raincock-Ekunwe had the cool hand under pressure.

Raincock-Ekunwe’s match-winner took her to 17 points for the game.

Nadeen Payne gave the Spirit scoring punch off the bench with 16 points to back up her 14 against Melbourne the night before. Captain Kelsey Griffin added 13 points, while Dietrick scored 11 to go with seven assists.

Heather Oliver, who stepped into the starting line-up for both games in the absence of Ashleigh Karitiana (concussion), also dished out seven assists.

There was a highlight late in the second quarter for the Spirit’s Kara Tessari when she scored her first WNBL points with a three-pointer.

Perth scoring machine Whitcomb led the Lynx with 22 points, while Carley Mijovic was a handful for the Spirit in the first half when she sunk four three-pointers among her 14 points, before ending the game with 16.

Article: Bendigo Advertiser
Photo: Akuna Photography

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