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WNBL 2014/15 Preliminary Final: Brave Bendigo hunt for third consecutive title
A Kelly Wilson masterclass has propelled the Bendigo Spirit to their third consecutive WNBL Grand Final after defeating the Sydney Uni Flames 85-77 at Bendigo Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Wilson netted 32 points and five assists on her way to earning massive wraps from coach Bernie Harrower.
“I take my hat off to her, she’s copped a bit of criticism off me over the years for not being aggressive enough,
“Today after the game I made the comment that was Kristi Harrower-like, she put the team on her back and carried us home, and those are the things Kristi used to do,
“I wouldn’t hesitate to say that was Kelly’s best ever game in the WNBL and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
With the Spirit only managing 32 second half points as the Flames were able to half their defence somewhat, Wilson was unbelievable, notching 18 of those.
Teammates Gabe Richards (16 points, 15 rebounds) and Kelsey Griffin (14 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists) were far too powerful for their respective opponents.
Sara Blicavs (6 points, 5 rebounds) struggled to find any rhythm throughout the day shooting just 2-12 from the floor, while it was again the lack of bench production that continues to be of some concern.
Sydney Uni were led by the combination of Paris Johnson and Mikaela Ruef who each had 17 points. Stars Katie-Rae Ebzery and Leilani Mitchell were serviceable without being a standout, which significantly hurt their options on the offensive end.
A combined 9-25FG, including five three point attempts without success had the tandem backcourt in trouble from the beginning.
Tahlia Tupaea certainly gave a spark off the bench for the visitors, scoring a quickfire six points while grabbing seven rebounds, three assists and a steal in her 23 minute spurt.
However, it was clearly the Spirit's day, despite shrugging off a gallant Flames outfit in the second quarter.
Bendigo's strong first term had the small, yet energetic crowd buzzing which the home side was able to continue with throughout the second half.
Bendigo 85 (Wilson 32, Richards 16, Griffin 14)
Sydney Uni 77 (Johnson 17, Ruef 17, Mitchell 12)
@ Bendigo Stadium