Written by Ollie Nash
The Selkirk Ballarat Rush welcome the Bendigo Braves to the Mars Minerdome for their home opener, as they look to bounce back from their round one loss to Nunawading.
The youthful Rush team were competitive for three-quarters on the road last Saturday night, but were unable to finish off the game in the fourth quarter, going down 89-68.
Experienced players His-Le Bao (Joy Burke) (19 points and 8 rebounds) and Olivia Hackmann (13 points) led the way, and they will be vital again to lead the girls to victory.
The great bench play from Claire Blower (5 points and 6 rebounds), Claire Constable (8 points and 3 assists) and Laura Taylor (7 points) was a positive sign on the night, and will be needed again to help achieve an even team performance and get the first win on the board.
Bendigo arrive in Ballarat after a strong 78-65 win over the Melbourne Tigers last Sunday. Tessa Lavey and Kelly Wilson were impressive with 21 and 20 points respectively while Gabrielle Richards added 12 points and 20 rebounds, 9 of which were offensive.
Richards activity on the offensive glass allowed Bendigo to take 80 shots last week compared to the Rush’s 61, so Bao and recruit Lucy Cochrane will share the important job of limiting her rebounds.
Preventing these second chance shots for the Braves will go a long way to helping the Rush to a win, allowing the ball to get out in transition to guards like Georgia Amoore and Chanise Jenkins who can shoot the open three or take it to the hoop.
Both teams shoot the ball similarly, Bendigo at 33% and Ballarat 37% from the field, while both go at around 34% from the three-point line, whilst clocking up more than 12 assists each.
The Rush will look to reduce their turnovers after committing 18 last week, which will be important against a quality Bendigo team, preventing them getting additional looks at the basket.
With both teams possessing quick guards that love to get out and run and shoot the ball well from the three-point line, expect a high paced game with some physicality under the rim for vital rebounds to kick-start the offense.