Spirit’s finals hopes over after loss to Lynx

24 February 2024 | Bendigo Spirit news

Bendigo’s season is over after a heartbreaking loss to Perth Lynx at Red Energy Arena on Saturday.

After leading by as much 16 points in the first term, the Spirit, who needed to win to end a seven-year finals drought, were outplayed after half-time to fall 93-74.

Captain Kelsey Griffin (24 points and 12 rebounds) and Ally Wilson (16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists) were gallant in defeat, while Alicia Froling (17 points, four rebounds and three assists) was also among Bendigo’s best players on the night.

It was the Aari McDonald show at the other end with the Lynx import finishing with a game-high 26 points, including five three-pointers, in just her second game back from injury.

Bendigo were red-hot early, jumping out to a 13-2 lead within three minutes before the Lynx called a time-out.

The break did little to stop the home side’s momentum, with five more consecutive points before McDonald’s important and-one bucket at the other end.

Abbey Wehrung provided another offensive weapon off the bench, scoring five points in his minutes in the first term including a triple with 90 seconds left.

Griffin, Ally Wilson and Froling combined for 22 first-term points as the Spirit took a 27-16 buffer into quarter-time.

Perth started to get it together in a see-sawing second quarter, cutting the deficit back to seven before a clutch three-pointer from Griffin.

The Spirit’s lead fluctuated from a little as three points and back up to 11 before a late surge from the visitors before half-time had the score at 49-44 and the match firmly in the balance.

Griffin was already up to a double-double in the first half alone, amassing a game-high 14 points and 10 rebounds.

It took less than three minutes of the second half for the Lynx to take the lead for the first time in the contest as McDonald, who dominated in the teams’ first meeting of the season, nailed back-to-back triples.

McDonald (19) and vice-captain Amy Atwell (20) were up to nearly 40 points between them by three-quarter time as Perth took a shock 68-62 advantage into the break.

From there, it was all the Lynx as the ran away with victory to keep their finals hopes alive.