The Integra Ballarat Rush have dropped to a 4-3 record after a disappointing doubleheader weekend in Tasmania, where they fell to both the Hobart Lady Chargers, 66-72 and the Launceston Tornadoes, 85-86.
A dismal start to the first quarter certainly played a role in the loss at Hobart. Coming into the second quarter trailing 21-9, the Rush found themselves playing catch-up for the majority of the game, a task that proved very difficult against a Hobart team constantly getting their momentum from their energetic home crowd.
Even though they trailed by as much as 16, the Rush were able to get the game within two points with four minutes remaining. However, a technical foul, along with a subsequent personal foul, both committed by Nya Mason, gave Hobart a quick six-point swing with two minutes remaining and the Rush were unable to recover, and would eventually fall to the Lady Chargers 66-72.
Before fouling out, Mason was an unstoppable post presence for the Rush, finishing the game with 19 points, shooting 8/15 from the field, and pulling down 15 rebounds, five offensive. Rinaldi and Cumming were also solid, contributing 16 points apiece to the final total.
Hobart had players step up in the absence of star forward Emma Langford. Captain Izzy Chilcott recorded nearly a triple-double, with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. Klara Wischer was equally as outstanding in her double-double efforts of 18 points and 14 rebounds. Import Kathleen Scheer also caused problems for Ballarat, as she top-scored for Hobart to bring in 19 points and grab eight rebounds.
The next night the ladies travelled to Ulverstone to take on the young but talented Launceston Tornadoes at the Schweppes Arena. The game started out at a fast and high-scoring pace, with both teams on pace to score triple digits going into halftime. Going into the break trailing by three, the Rush were well and truly still in the game and capable of pulling ahead in the second half.
The Rush would struggle to pull ahead for the entire third quarter up and until two minutes left where a three-pointer by Steph Cumming followed by a field goal by Kristy Rinaldi saw the Rush go ahead by five points going into the final term.
The fourth quarter was the most thrilling of the entire game, as the lead would trade back and forth between the teams before being even at 82 with just over two minutes remaining. Cumming was able to knock down three foul shots to get the Rush a chance at victory. However, a foul on Nadeen Payne would send her to the line, where she would sink two free throws and give the Tornadoes a one-point advantage.
The Rush would have the ball with 17 seconds left in the game and would hold the ball to take the last shot and win the game. Steph Cumming came off a screen by Mason to get a good look at the basket, but the shot went in and out again, and Launceston would win it, 86-85.
Payne was outstanding for the Tornadoes, scoring 33 points at 71% (12/17) and pulling in 17 rebounds and was their clear MVP. Alex Wilson also chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Cumming shot a remarkable 56% for the game, 67% from the three, to score 32 points, pull in five rebounds, and dish out four assists. Cumming also shot 8/8 from the free throw line, six of which were in clutch times during the second half. Mason added 17 points and six rebounds to the tally for the Rush, and Kristy Rinaldi had 14 points and five rebounds.
The Rush will look to get back on track in this weekend’s doubleheader as they take on the Frankston Blues and the Dandenong Lady Rangers. They will go against the Lady Blues this Saturday from 6pm at the MARS® MINERDOME before travelling on Sunday to take on Dandenong.
Thank you to Thrifty Ballarat for providing all of our travel needs.