November 25, 2020 | WNBL news

Lightning strike brave Bendigo

Twenty-four hours is a long time in basketball. Just ask the Adelaide Lightning.
On Tuesday, the Lightning returned to the court after a week in self-isolation and copped a 40-point smacking from the Deakin Melbourne Boomers.
Tonight, they fought back from a one-point half time deficit to beat a gutsy Villawood Properties Bendigo Spirit, 89-83, and return to the Chemist Warehouse WNBL winners list.
Point guard Ally Wilson, who produced a team-high 23 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists, said the Spirit made Adelaide earn every bit of their third win of the 2020 season.
“We wanted to come out firing after the disappointment of last night’s loss and I’m glad we put this one away in the end,’’ she said.
“I don’t think we even played that well tonight and we still came away with the win so we just need to keep addressing those things we keep speaking about and I think we can go anywhere.”
Wilson scored the first points at Townsville Stadium and a tight opening term followed with the Lightning ahead 23-22 at the first break on the back of some solid play from Marena Whittle (8 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists. Meanwhile, forward Demi Skinner (17 points) came off the bench and drained a big three in a sign of things to come for the Spirit.
Adelaide captain Steph Talbot (22 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists) was bench bound with her third foul midway through the second quarter, opening the door for Bendigo to make a run off the back of their skipper Tessa Lavey.
The Spirit went to the rooms with a 43-42 lead at the main break.
Wilson said coach Chris Lucas had a simple message: improve defensively.
“He’s certainly not happy with our defensive rebounding. We gave up way too many offensive boards, and have in every game we’ve played, so that’s something we definitely need to address because if we do that, we’re a 10x better team,’’ she said.
Lavey continued on her way to start the third, putting the Spirit up by five points before Adelaide went to a zone and were able to reduce the margin with Talbot putting her side ahead halfway through the term.
Skinner continued to pack a punch from deep and with a minute to go Carly Ernst (22 points) tied the game before Taylor Ortlepp put the Lightning in front at the final break, 61-59.
A tense final stanza followed with Adelaide extending their buffer and threatening to run away with it. But Bendigo was brave until the very end, with a Lavey triple getting the Spirit within three points with six seconds to play before her opposing captain Talbot made one of two free throws to secure an Adelaide victory.
Lavey, who finished with a game-high 33 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds in an inspirational display, said Bendigo oozed spirit.
“I’m really proud of us. We were really disappointed with our game yesterday (a 48-point loss to Townsville) and to come out and play like that, I was really proud of our group considering how young we are and how much we have to learn,’’ she said.
“Four quarters, that’s what we need. We need to put that together, but we are getting there and there’s no doubt a win will come, it’s coming.”

Megan Hustwaite is a freelance contributor to WNBL.basketball.

Box Score
Adelaide Lightning 89 (Wilson 23, Talbot 22, Wehrung 15)
Villawood Bendigo Spirit 83 (Lavey 33, Ernst 22, Skinner 17)