15/04/2024

Anneli Maley takes a shot

Anneli Maley had a point to prove after missing Opals selection, leading the Spirit to their second win of WNBL22 in a huge upset.

After missing out on a spot with the Australian Opals team, Anneli Maley delivered a dominant full court performance to deliver a win for the Bendigo Spirit in Adelaide. 

Maley was explosive all game long, finishing with 26 points, 21 rebounds including seven offensive, five steals and three assists. 

The Spirit were able to field their best team for the first time this year having been at the mercy of Health and Safety Protocols for much of the season. With only one win prior to this game, they have been competitive against the big names of the competition such as Perth and Canberra but have been unable to get a win in 2022. 

Despite the teams being at opposite ends of the ladder, this was a game that had the potential to go either way. The Lightning came in missing three of their best; Alanna Smith and Steph Talbot to the Opals squad, and Kiana Williams out with injury. 

It was a fast start for the Lightning who were strong in offence early, but without their regular ball handlers struggled to maintain the possession and run plays cleanly. Despite this, the Lightning were able to hold the lively Spirit back and go into the first break seven points up. 

The second quarter was where Maley began to make her stamp on the game, getting herself into the defence and collecting seven of her rebounds alone. Not to forget the offence, she also scored six points in the quarter to help the Spirit come into half time with a narrow three point lead. It was a high intensity quarter, with teams swapping lead three times. 

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In the third, Maley took the game on with both hands and dominated the floor. Play by play she was everywhere. A steal against Abigail Wehrung early on resulted in Maley’s first for the quarter, giving the Spirit their biggest lead so far. 

Minutes later she repeated the same feat, and followed this up with a defensive rebound where she went end to end landing a lay up. Scoring on the free throw, she gave her team the seven point lead in the first few minutes of the quarter. 

Despite the strong performance, Maley was struggling to make shots from deep. She adjusted and moved forward to shoot closer to the ring and was rewarded with 16 points for the quarter. 

The Spirit began to come over the top of the Lightning in this quarter, extending their lead to 12 points at one stage. The Lightning continued to fight, scraping the lead back to under 10 at times, but in the end were outscored 24 points to 17 by the Spirit. 

The fourth quarter saw a change in tactic for the Spirit, who were determined to hold onto their lead and break a six game losing streak. The high energy offence that was taking shots early on, changed momentum and took to holding possession longer.

This allowed the Spirit to take control of the game and limit the opportunities that the Lightning would have to turn over the ball. This style of play resulted in a more measured offence that was able to out score the Lightning again in the final term and win by 12 points to break a six game losing streak.

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