EARLY in the final quarter of Saturday night’s WNBL clash with the Canberra Capitals, the Bendigo Spirit were staring down the barrel of one of the club’s most disappointing defeats in recent seasons. The winless Caps led the Spirit by seven points and little seemed to be going right for the home side.
All this on the back of a 32-point thumping from Dandenong 24 hours earlier – the equal-greatest losing margin in Spirit history. In desperate times the Spirit’s big three – Kelsey Griffin, Gabe Richards and Kelly Wilson – took over and rescued their team.
From seven points behind, the Spirit outscored the tiring Caps 24-6, to win the game 77-66. Griffin, Richards and Wilson scored 22 of the 24 points in the final term.
Richards was dominant – seven points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in the final quarter to give her 22 points and 12 boards for the game. Griffin has taken her game to another level this season. The power forward had 25 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, four steals and one block.
Wilson scored seven of her 10 points in the final quarter. Starting guard Heather Oliver missed both matches on the weekend because of injury.
Her absence highlighted how skinny the Spirit’s depth is. Import centre Joy Burke continues to struggle, leaving Richards and Griffin to carry a heavy load.
Belinda Snell and Wilson played 39 minutes each on Saturday night, while Richards and Griffin played 35 and 34 minutes respectively. Burke scored two points, grabbed three rebounds and had four turnovers in 16 minutes of court time. Sarah McAppion was the only other bench player to see game time.
Bendigo Stadium sings Happy Birthday to Bendigo Bank Spirit’s Ashleigh Spencer