The Integra Ballarat Rush have continued to persist in their campaign for a finals spot, even with a shattering overtime loss to the Nunawading Lady Spectres at Nunawading Stadium Saturday night, they remain in the chase after a convincing win against the Knox Lady Raiders Sunday afternoon at the MARS® MINERDOME.
In an opening quarter where the Rush shot a significantly higher percentage than the Lady Spectres, heading into the first break trailing by four is not the outcome one would expect. However, the tenacious Lady Spectres were able to double the Rush rebounds and nearly double the amount of shots taken for the quarter, and as a result, a 24-20 Nunawading lead was the score at first quarter time. The Rush picked up their offensive intensity in the second quarter, and although they would allow the Lady Spectres to shoot 73% from the field, they would head into the main break only trailing by one, and seeing positive contribution from across the starters and throughout the bench.
The Rush would come into the third quarter clicking on all cylinders. Scoring 12 points in the first few minutes of the second half would cause Nunawading to play on the defensive for the term. Once the Rush established the lead early on in the third, they lead for the remainder of the quarter, heading into the final quarter with a two-point lead, 62-60.
The opening stages of the fourth quarter was all Rush, as two field goals from Steph Cumming, followed by a steal from Nya Mason that led to an Abbey Wehrung field goal would see Ballarat playing with a togetherness difficult for Nunawading to match. The Lady Spectres determination did not wane, however. Trailing by 7 points with two minutes remaining, a Bec Allen three-pointer led the charge that started a 9-2 Nunawading run that would eventually force the game into overtime.
The extra period was all Nunawading. Despite a heroic effort from Steph Cumming to get the Rush back into the game, the Spectres proved too strong, sustaining their run from the fourth quarter, scoring an impressive 22 points in the five minute overtime. The Rush made late push for the lead in the final seconds of the game, and although welcomed by the fans, it was too late. They would fall to the Lady Spectres in overtime 93-101.
Young gun Alanna Smith was the clear standout for Nunawading in the contest with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Haley Moffatt and Bec Allen were also solid in their roles, Moffatt with 23 points, four rebounds and four assists, Allen with 21 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.
Steph Cumming continues to be a shining light for the Rush. Playing the entire game, Cumming scored a game-high of 34 points while also dishing out the ball for five assists. Young Ballarat local Abbey Wehrung was also impressive with 17 points.
The next day the Rush had the difficult task of putting a shattering loss behind them and focusing on obtaining a win against the Knox Raiders, who seemingly held an advantage over the Rush, as it was their first contest for the weekend.
Any worries of the Knox fresh legs advantage were quickly wiped away as the Rush were able to jump out to a 12-2 start in the first five minutes of the match. Although the Raiders would pick up their offensive intensity as the quarter went on, the Rush still maintained an eight-point lead heading into the first break, which would increase to a 14-point lead at halftime thanks to the Rush ability to hold the Raiders to 30% shooting for the first half.
The Rush shot with a proficiency in the second half that saw them maintain a double-digit lead for the rest of the game. Moreover, their smothering defence kept the Knox Raiders at just 30% shooting for the remainder of the game, erasing any hope of a Knox comeback.
Noteworthy are the young locals that entered into the contest with limited minutes and had impact on the game. Ryleigh Haire, Lydia Brooks and Molly Mathews all suited up for the Rush Sunday afternoon, and performed in a way that inspired confidence in the future of Ballarat Basketball.
Shanae Greaves was the catalyst for the Knox offence. With good distribution of the ball, and also a few strong moves in the post, Greaves finished the contest with 12 points, nine rebounds, and countless intangibles that kept her teammates motivated to fight all the way to the end. She was supported by Jess May, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
Steph Cumming led all scorers with 20 points, also recording five assists and three steals on the day. Captain Kristy Rinaldi was big on the boards, securing her third double-double on the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Cumming and Rinaldi were supported by Mason and Wehrung with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Get in this weekend to the MARS® MINERDOME as crowd support will be crucial in helping the Integra Ballarat Rush get over the line against a strong Dandenong team this Saturday, and also in their push to make play-offs. Tip-off begins at 6pm, followed by the GMHBA Ballarat Miners taking on the Dandenong Rangers from 8pm.