In what could possibly be the tightest game to be seen this WNBL season, the Bendigo Spirit brought the Dandenong Jayco Rangersí home-court domination to an end on Saturday afternoon in a physically exhausting game.
With the scores tied at every change the game went into overtime, with the Spirit finally victorious 77-74.
The lead never exceeded five points for either side. The tightness of the game was reflected in the stats with the only variation being the Rangersí 12 blocks to the Spritís three.
Former Rangersí player Toni Edmondson was outstanding for the Spirit scoring 21 points, four rebounds and two assists, supported by Chelsea Aubry (17 points, 9 rebounds) who played a strong game making three of five from beyond the arc.
For the Rangers, who were missing their star centre Abby Bishop who was out with an injury, Kathleen Macleod (20 points) & Tracey Gahan (10 rebounds) put their bodies on the line, each playing 40 minutes of intense basketball.
The first quarter was a microcosm of the game, with Dandenong getting an early lead thanks to Ashley Robinson scoring four points and putting up an emphatic block at the defensive end only to see Bendigo claw back the lead on the back of two three-pointers from Edmondson.
The two teams swapped baskets and defensive stops. Kristi Harrower, who had been kept scoreless for the quarter, made her first basket to tie the game 14-14 at the first break.
With Gabrielle Richards providing a strong target inside for the Spirit, and Edmondson dropping points from outside the Spirit showed aggression on offence, but the defence of both teams was the dominant factor in the second period. The two teams could not be separated at the half, at 33-all.
In a scrappy start to the third quarter Bendigo moved out to a five-point advantage until Chantella Perera sank a three, then followed with two from the line to tie it all up again at 42-all. From then on, the two sides swapped baskets to go into the three quarter-time break 51-51.
Edmondson started the fourth with a three under extreme pressure then a two, once more taking Bendigo out to the lead which they maintained until a three from MacLeod tied the game at 68-68. A desperate attempt from Harrower to make the winning basket in the dying seconds resulted in no change to the score on the buzzer.
Five minutes of overtime was all that was needed for Bendigo to wrap up the game 77-74 on the back of crucial threes from Aubry and Edmondson.
Bendigo Spirit 77 (Toni Edmondson 21, Chelsea Aubry 17, Kristi Harrower 11) defeated Dandenong Rangers 74 (Kathleen MacLeod 20, Chantella Perera 13, Tracey Gahan 10)
By Alison Power