THE Lady Bandits suffered a severe case of deja vu at the Lauren Jackson Sports Centre on Saturday night.
Devoid of any notable height, the Border outfit was simply overpowered by the much-improved Launceston Tornadoes in an 87-59 demolition.
The Lady Bandits were dealt a big blow before tip-off with centre Lauren Angel a late withdrawal with an ankle injury suffered in a pre-season game last week.
With US imports Rachel Maenpaa (injured) and Emilee Harmon (playoff commitments) unavailable and power forward Maddy Plunkett already ruled out for the season, Angel’s absence proved decisive.
Without any genuine height to battle against, the Tornadoes did as they pleased on the glass at both ends of the court, claiming a staggering 51-22 advantage in the rebounding count.
It was a tale all too familiar last year and for one week at least Albury-Wodonga was forced to take its chances and bomb away from deep.
Careless turnovers from the hosts also didn’t help their cause, helping Launceston build a commanding 72-46 lead by three-quarter-time.
Launceston was led by the talented Lauren Mansfield’s 20 points while WNBL centre Emma McKenzie tallied a tidy double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The duo had plenty of support with Nadeen Payne (15), Mariah Payne (14) and Hannah Phillips (10) all cracking double digits.
For Albury-Wodonga, young star Montana Farrah-Seaton again showed maturity beyond her years with a team-high 20 points while captain Tenille Collins nailed four triples on her way to 15 points.
Lady Bandits coach James Ballinger refused to use his squad’s extensive casualty list as an excuse for the blowout defeat, saying he expected his players to be smarter with the ball.
“We just passed the ball out of bounds a number of times, to I don’t know who,” Ballinger said.
“It’s hard to use their size as an excuse either, we were disjointed and we looked like we didn’t know what we were trying to achieve.
“I’ll never mention injuries; the people on the floor, that’s your group, that’s who you have to coach and try to get better.
“There were a few people whose effort was patchy.”