Another game, another win. For the Bendigo Braves women this year, it’s been a pretty simple equation.
But extending their unbeaten run to 17 games against Ballarat on Wednesday night wasn’t as straightforward as the 23-point win may appear on paper.
“It probably wasn’t the prettiest game to watch, but we got it done,” coach Megan Moody said.
Bendigo opened the game with a 7-0 run and was never headed, eventually emerging victorious 78-55.
But it was a performance in which the team noticeably lost its way in both the second and third quarters.
Turnovers proved costly in the second period as Ballarat whittled away at Bendigo’s nine-point quarter time lead, dragging it back to five points at half time.
Led by Courtney Walker, the Rush closed to within a basket midway through the third, forcing Moody to intervene with a timeout.
She got the desired response, with Nadeen Payne scoring out of the stoppage and then Bianca Dufelmeier (nine points) then hitting back-to-back threes from either wing.
That quickfire 8-0 run would prove to be the foundation of the victory.
“I think we’ve got a lot of experienced heads there and sometimes we get caught up in the emotion of the games so we just need that time to calm things down,” Moody said.
“I think we lost focus a bit, maybe just caught up with a few things that we didn’t expect, so it’s just making sure we stick to what we know we should be doing and not trying to find an easy way out.”
While Dufelmeier’s cameo was part of just 13 minutes on court, Moody paid tribute to the energetic guard after the match.
“Bianca just comes in and gives us a big lift off the bench with her energy, and did that again tonight,” she said.
“We really missed her when she was out, we missed that spark and it was great to have her back.”
The Braves outscored Ballarat 12-3 to end the term and then rammed the advantage home after the final change.
Kelly Wilson keyed the run, scoring nine final-quarter points to keep the scoreboard ticking over toward the end.
Wilson exited the game early with 21 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Braves, including her match-sealing burst in another MVP performance.
Nadeen Payne added 15 and 11 rebounds, while Ash Karaitiana added nine points but couldn’t find her shot going three-of-17 from the field.
“It was a tough night in that regard, we had a lot of really good, open looks, but we just couldn’t get them to fall,” Moody said.
For the visitors, former Bendigo Spirit import Joy Burke had 15 points and a huge 19 rebounds and Courtney Walker added 12 points.
The Braves women have already locked away top spot and play Geelong on Saturday night.
They then play Frankston (last) and Nunawading (third) in the final weekend of the season as they bid to become just the second side to go through a regular season unbeaten.
Dandenong is the only other side to achieve the feat.
“We’ll have a light session and then talk about Geelong and go through some of the scout and then refocus, rock down there and give it our best effort,” Moody said.
Bendigo plays the Supercats in a double header from 6pm tomorrow night.
– Joel Peterson