The JCU Townsville Fire’s arch-nemesis, Bendigo, enjoyed the last laugh during today’s Halloween clash with a 12-point victory.
Returning to their home floor, the Fire were desperate to return to the winners’ list but the Spirit had the answers as they opened up an early 11-4 lead.
With Canadian Olympian Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe (14 points and 10 rebounds) pacing the Spirit early, the Fire finally got going as captain Suzy Batkovic scored her first points of the game to move past Jess Bibby into third all-time in the WNBL.
Despite playing with an injured ankle, Batkovic (20 points) was again the barometer for the Fire but found foul trouble in the second half.
Micaela Cocks (10 points) looked dangerous early, but the Fire still trailed by five going into the first change.
The Spirit continued to pound away in the second term as their lead reached double figures.
For a third consecutive game, the third quarter proved telling for the Fire as their offensive woes continued in Batkovic’s absence.
The injection of Amy Kame and Natasha Cloud proved telling in the final term, however, as the American guards lifted the two-time reigning WNBL champions with their defensive intensity.
With the margin back to eight points halfway through the last quarter, Townsville Stadium were on their feet before the Spirit snuffed out any hope of a miraculous comeback to claim a 74-62 win.
“It was a disappointing loss,” head coach Claudia Brassard said.
“Amy gives us great intensity at every training session, just as she showed today, but we need to better at all facets of the game.
“We’ve got a bit to work on at training this week.”
The Fire will remain at their home base next week when they host the Sydney Uni Flames on Saturday night.
Click here for full box scores from today’s game.