THE Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits tipped off its SEABL pre-season in encouraging style with an at-times scrappy win over the Canberra Capitals Academy in Wagga yesterday.
Lady Bandits US import Rachel Maenpaa nailed two free throws with 27 seconds remaining to put the Border club in front and a solid defensive sequence in the final seconds sealed the win.
After a first half that saw the Lady Bandits lead 30-26 at the long break, an offensive drought meant Albury-Wodonga scored just five points for the third period and allowed the Caps Academy to take a 40-35 advantage into the fourth quarter.
But in a pleasing sign for coach James Ballinger, the Lady Bandits bounced back to over-run Canberra 16-10 in the final 10 minutes to claim victory.
“It was a starting block,” Ballinger said.
“We need to develop better practice habits; some of those bad habits come out in the game and it’s not something we can turn on and off.
“And how we finished the game, both offensively and defensively, was very pleasing.
“I would be disappointed if we were firing on all cylinders in game one of the pre-season.
“But it gave us a really good indication of where we’re at and where we need to go.”
Lady Bandits recruit Lauren Angel led all scorers with 16 points, while Maenpaa added 14 points and young gun Montana Farrah-Seaton chimed in with 12.
For Canberra, Ellie Junod top-scored with 14 points but Shelley West was the only other Caps Academy player in double digits with 11 points.
Albury-Wodonga was without point guard Sophie Kleeman and US pivot Emilee Harmon, who is expected to arrive on the Border in mid-March.
The Lady Bandits next practice match will be at the Wodonga Sports and Leisure Centre on Saturday against the North East Bushrangers.