WNBL Grand Final Review - Bendigo Champions Again
|Michael Tozer||Mar 11, 2014|
This year's Bendigo Spirit has cemented their names in the record books and will go down in history as one of the league's best ever teams after winning their second straight Grand Final.
Winning the Final to the tune of 94-83 against the Townsville Fire, Bendigo has now only lost 5 games in their last two seasons, an amazing feat by any means and an appropriate measure of how dominant they have been. Bernie Harrower's squad capped off another terrific season with this win after they've comprehensively dismantled teams on both ends of the court, week in, week out.
— MichelleCoulingPhoto (@MCP_pix) March 10, 2014
This phenomenal game will serve to advertise the league as well as provide a testament to the quality of women's basketball; a game which would surely draw today's casual viewer back for more WNBL action next season.
2500 fans filled Bendigo stadium up to the rafters and the constant wave of noise and excitement never left the room. The game provided shock, excitement and euphoria all throughout the encounter.
They played well and they certainly brought out the best in us - we had to play a sensational game to get the win today" - Bernie Harrower
Rachael Sporn Grand Final MVP, Kelsey Griffin was nothing short of sensational.
We'll be having nightmares about Kelsey" - Rachael McCully
Griffin finished with 28 points and 15 rebounds, off 10/16 shooting. Kelsey blew the game apart early in the first, hitting 3/3 three's to give Bendigo a comfortable 13-point lead mid-way through the first term. Kristi Harrower played second fiddle to Griffin, but was still fantastic in what may be her penultimate game. Harrower recorded 22 points, adding 9 assists, meanwhile, her hustle play had the entire city of Bendigo on their feet as she was diving on loose balls and hustling to hassle shooters; all natural for Harrower. Gabe Richards limited Suzy Batkovic throughout, especially early on and still managed to finish with 16 points and 6 rebounds. Kelly Wilson had a solid game, challenging her defenders throughout; Wilson finished with 14 points and 4 rebounds.
League-MVP Suzy Batkovic top-scored for Townsville with 21 points and 9 rebounds. She asserted herself as a force in the middle in the third quarter, scoring 10 points to have the Fire within 1 with a quarter to spare. Mia Newley was the best for the Fire, her 18 points off the bench allowed her to assert herself as an X-factor in the contest. Steph Cumming was solid with 14 points and 4 rebounds, while 300-game veteran Rachael McCully had 12 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds in what could be her last game.
It was all Kelsey Griffin in the first quarter. After Rachael McCully scored the first bucket for Townsville, Kelsey got the crowd into the game with three straight three-point makes, leading her team to a 13-point lead. Townsville fought back to have the game within 8, but Kelsey was unstoppable early on, recording 14 points and 7 rebounds. Bendigo and Townsville went basket for basket in the 2nd with neither side really gaining control of the match until Bendigo quickly clawed away. Townsville's bench came in handy at the end of the second quarter with both Mia Newley and Alex Wilson scoring much-needed buckets to make it a 5-point ball game in favor of the home side.
Suzy finally broke free from the shackles of Gabe Richards in the third term, scoring 10 points in a quarter that was played at a frantic pace. The quarter was full of attractive basketball, a fantastic advertisement for casual viewers of the WNBL. Sara Blicavs made two free-throws to end the half to have the Spirit up 1 with the 4th quarter to spare. Bendigo's frantic and frenetic defence stifled Townsville in the last quarter. With the Fire unable to establish the rhythm they had on offence in the previous two quarters, Bendigo kept up the work on offence, putting the Fire away with a game-winning 24-14 quarter.
Grand Final result
Bendigo Spirit 94 (Griffin 28, Harrower 22, Richards 16) defeated Townsville Fire 83 (Batkovic 21, Newley 18, Cumming 14)
Though the exciting 2013-2014 WNBL season has ended, stay tuned to more basketball news (WNBL, NBL, NCAA, NBA) right here at the Pick and Roll! Till next time!