Dominant performances from Gabrielle Richards and Kelly Wilson have helped the Lady Braves to the 2018 SEABL Championship despite 16 threes from Launceston.
Bendigo prevailed 119-96 in a high scoring contest, with both teams shooting over 50% from the field. Gabrielle Richards won the MVP award after an outstanding 43 points and 24 rebounds. Richards shot a scintillating 16-19 from the field while also securing 11 offensive rebounds. Richard’s dominance in the paint helped the Lady Braves to a huge advantage in the paint, as they out rebounded the Tornadoes 51-18. Kelly Wilson controlled the ball all night for Bendigo as she dished out 20 dimes to go along with 27 points.
It was Wilson who paced the Lady Braves early, as she began to assert her dominance as the floor general for the Lady Braves. Gabrielle Richards used her size advantage on numerous occasions as she scored 12 first quarter points. The Launceston big’s struggled to contain her in the paint as she went 6-6 from the field.
Alex Wilson hit a timely three for the Tornadoes as the first period came to a close, but the two stars of the first period in Kelly Wilson and Gabrielle Richards combined for a Richards lay-in to see the Lady Braves lead 33-28 at the end of one.
The second period began with a 6-0 run from the Lady Braves, however a Lauren Nicholson three brought the score line back to 39-31 early in the second.
Kelly Wilson continued to be the catalyst for the Lady Braves as she reached a double-double with over three minutes to go in the second quarter of 13 points and 10 assists. Wilson was seemingly involved in every score for the Lady Braves, as she scored or assisted on 42 of Bendigo’s 63 first half points.
Both teams showcased elite accuracy from downtown as the Tornadoes connected on 8-16 first half triples.
For Launceston Ellie Collins enjoyed a great first half, dropping 21 points, including 3-3 from downtown. For Bendigo, it was their star pairing of Kelly Wilson and Gabrielle Richards who led the way as Wilson had 15 points and 12 rebounds while Richards had 21 points on an impressive 8-9 shooting to go along with 9 boards.
At the half Bendigo had opened up a commanding 63-46 lead as the Tornadoes went into the break with a lot of work to do. Led by Richards, the Lady Braves had found an advantage in the paint as they led the points in the paint numbers 34-16.
Alex Wilson opened the second half with a bang as she connected on a three-point attempt. The Tornadoes would start where they left off as Alexander Partridge connected on a second three to bring the margin back to 15 early in the third period. The Tornadoes were trying to shoot their way back into the game as they narrowly missed on their next three attempts from downtown.
Bendigo steadied momentarily before Nicholson and Partridge connected on two more threes to bring the score line back to 74-60 with four and half minutes remaining in the third.
Despite the Tornadoes’ sharp shooting from range, the Braves continued their offensive onslaught on the interior and when Ashleigh Karaitiana hit a three the lead was back out to 19 with the Lady Braves in control.
However, moments later Ellie Collins connected on yet another Tornadoes three before Lauren Mansfield stole the ball and drew the foul for another two. The Tornadoes sensed a switch in momentum as Ellie Collins hit on a mid-range jump shot before Alexandra Partridge connected on another long-range two to complete a 9-0 run in just 47 seconds, sending the travelling Launceston fans into a frenzy and as a result, forcing the Lady Braves into a timeout.
Kelly Wilson came out of the break re-energised for Bendigo, steadying her team with a number of big plays, including a tough lay-up to give the Lady Braves a comfortable 87-74 lead.
The two teams traded buckets to begin the fourth period before Alexandra Partridge connected on a tough and-one lay-in to bring the Tornadoes within 13.
The game started to become scrappy as both teams stepped up the defensive intensity. Bodies were hitting the floor regularly during the fourth as both teams drew multiple offensive fouls. The refs tried their best to put their whistles away but the physical nature of the game compelled them to become involved.
The Tornadoes were struggling to put any real scoreboard pressure on the Lady Braves as the margin remained in the high teens throughout the last period. Launceston continued to score at a high-rate thanks to a multitude of threes from Lauren Nicholson, but the Lady Braves kept the scoreboard ticking over to keep their lead secure.
With 2:40 to go, Kelly Wilson drew a foul on a fast break lay-up. The foul meant that both teams were in the bonus. Wilson went 2-2 from the line to put Bendigo up 107-93.
When Gabrielle Richards converted on yet another and-one opportunity, the game was out of reach for Launceston as they trailed 112-93 with just over a minute to go.
With 30 seconds to go the Lady Braves began to celebrate as they had secured the game, capitalising on their perfect 20-0 regular season.
Bendigo’s two stars in Gabrielle Richards and Kelly Wilson were hard to split in the MVP voting but it was Richards who was awarded MVP as she put up a monster stat line of 43 points and 24 boards, including 11 offensive. Richards completely dominated the paint, as she shot an efficient 16-19 from the field.
Kelly Wilson was once again outstanding as she controlled the contest from the outset, using her floor general skills to drop 27 points and 20 assists. Ashleigh Karaitiana also put up 21, to help Bendigo on their offensive onslaught. The Lady Braves managed 119 points on a scintillating 60% field goal percentage.
Launceston shot the ball at a highly efficient rate themselves, shooting at 50% for 96 points of their own. The Tornadoes dropped 16 threes in the game as Lauren Nicholson led the way with 5 triples.
The regular season MVP dropped 24 points and 7 assists while Ellie Collins was instrumental with 26 points and 6 boards.
Bendigo dominated the paint all-game as they led the points in the paint numbers 70-28, largely thanks to Richards. The Lady Braves also dominated the rebounding battle, securing 51 while limiting the Tornadoes to just 18 rebounds for the game.