FOR the first time in more than two years, the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits can finally claim a winning streak.
The Border club stormed over the top of the Brisbane Lady Spartans last night, outscoring the visitors 20-10 in the final five minutes to snatch a dramatic 75-70 victory.
US import Rachel Maenpaa gave the hosts a 71-70 lead on two clutch free throws with 15.6 seconds remaining before Brisbane skipper Karli Currie was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul on Emma Mahady.
Four straight free throws to the young forward with 3.5 seconds on the clock sealed the Border outfit’s second straight win, following last week’s home victory over Launceston.
Mahady top-scored for the Lady Bandits with 17 points, while Lonnika Thompson (15), Maenpaa (14) and Montana Farrah-Seaton (13) all provided solid offensive support.
Until the frantic final minutes, it had been a largely forgettable performance from both teams at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre, with rushed shots, poor passes and elementary mistakes plaguing both teams.
Lady Bandits coach James Ballinger praised his team’s ability to fight for the win despite playing poorly for much of the contest.
“That was a stereotypical win for us,” Ballinger said.
“It was scrappy, it was ugly, it was nowhere near our best performance but when it counted, we found a way to win.
“There’s been plenty of times this year where we’ve been the better team for 30 minutes and haven’t won; so you have to take the good with the bad.
“It’s nice to have a streak that’s not losses and it’s nice for the girls, we can go into the off-season building off this.”
A less-than-stellar first quarter saw numerous errors and turnovers from both teams as the Lady Bandits battled to a 15-13 lead.
The hosts showed improved decision making for much of the second period to claim a 35-23 lead before a Lady Spartans’ fightback saw the Border club go into the locker room up 35-29.
Brisbane came out hard to open the third quarter, getting all the way back to 45-45 and then taking a 49-46 advantage into the final 10 minutes.
Two straight baskets to Mahady wrested the lead back to Albury-Wodonga but the visitors refused to yield, scoring on three straight possessions.
Consecutive Thompson scores gave the Border outfit a 65-62 lead with 2.30 to play and when Mahady nailed a jumper, the five-point lead looked to be enough.