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WNBL: Turner burns Spirit hopes

ADELAIDE Lightning import Brianna Turner today sent Bendigo's season into its final tailspin, acting the architect in the construction of a 91-75 home win that should leave the Spirit firmly anchored in WNBL 2019-20's bomb shelter.

Exploding 12-0 from the blocks before a loose crosscourt Adelaide pass opened the lane for Bendigo's first score, Lightning twice weathered the best the Spirit could offer, even its final 16-point winning margin flattering the visitors.

Bendigo was trailing 62-88 in the last quarter before Lightning coach Chris Lucas cleared his bench, allowing the Spirit to finish the game on a deceptive 13-3 run.

Realistically, they were never in it, Turner controlling the paint on her way to game highs in points with 23, rebounds 13, steals 3 and blocks 5.

Running with her in tandem was forward Steph Talbot who finished just one assist shy of a rare triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. She also had two steals and a block.

HERE IT COMES: Steph Talbot spots a cutting Brianna Turner. 

Adelaide captain Nicole Seekamp also was prominent for 13 points and five assists, Kathryn Westbeld also close to breaking double figures with nine points and eight rebounds.

Bendigo, which sacked last season's import star Rebecca Tobin this week, opened with a confusing starting quintet of guards Kelly Wilson, Tessa Lavey and Shyla Heal, import Marte Grays - who ultimately played a grand total of 11:33 - and Central District junior Demi Skinner.

In huge part that "strategy" opened the door for Lightning's 12-0 start and 28-10 lead, the Spirit only looking competitive when Carley Ernst (21 points with 4-of-7 threes, nine rebounds), Gabe Richards and Abbey Wehrung finally joined the fray.

The Lightning lead was out to 20 at 53-33 before Skinner struck a 3-pointer for her eighth point of the period. Turner already had 19 points at halftime on 8-of-11 shooting, had gone coast-to-coast off a defensive board, stolen a ball and laid it in and generally dispirited Bendigo.

Chelsea Brook had 11 points by the interval and Lauren Nicholson eight, seven in the second quarter, Adelaide weathering Bendigo's first run which drew it to 26-32 before Lightning again caught fire.

Ernst had 21 at the last break, and three fouls, starting the last quarter on the bench, Adelaide ahead 68-55.

Solid inside work by Richards pulled Bendigo back to 60-68. Consecutive 3-pointers by Talbot to again pull Adelaide out to 74-60, effectively put an end to the resistance.

Ernst was subbed back in, quickly picked up her fourth foul and was rendered ineffective the rest of the way, Adelaide now with a two-win gap on the teams outside the four - with a game in hand - and Bendigo looking directionless and at odds with its own confusing master plan. 

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 91 (Turner 23, Talbot 17, Brook 16, Seekamp 13, Nicholson 10; Turner 13 rebs; Talbot 9 assts) d BENDIGO SPIRIT 75 (Ernst 21, Skinner 17, Heal 16; Ernst 9 rebs; Wilson 6 assts) at The Lighthouse, Titanium Security Arena.

Dec 15

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.