Lady Bandits choked by zone defence

A proverbial game of two halves on Saturday night once again showed the Albury-Wodonga Lady Bandits a valuable lesson in playing out the full 40 minutes.

The Lady Bandits put on a much-improved performance over the opening two quarters against the Frankston Lady Blues but faded badly after half-time to lose 87-70, the team’s 15th straight defeat.

After previously struggling with their starts, Albury-Wodonga led 25-22 at quarter-time and then remarkably stretched its advantage to 49-40 at the long interval at the Frankston Basketball Stadium.

But it was all downhill after that, the visitors’ scoring evaporating in the second half as a Frankston zone defence choked the life out of the Lady Bandits’ offensive options.

Frankston’s big guns all fired, with Nicole Romeo (25 points), Madeleine Garrick (20) and Kelly Bowen (20) all proving particularly troublesome for Albury-Wodonga’s defenders.

Emilee Harmon was once more at the forefront of the Lady Bandits’ efforts, scoring 21 points and hauling down a game-high 12 rebounds.

The US import received solid support from guard Sophie Kleeman who nailed three of her six attempts from international waters on her way to a career-best 17 points.

Coach James Ballinger admitted his team never really came to terms with Frankston’s defence after half-time.

“Our defence was a staple all game really,” Ballinger said.

“We did a good job on their key people in the first half.

“We pushed hard in the first half, got good shots and good things happened, we talked about what to expect from Frankston and I thought they would have pressured us more.

“But they went zone and really stifled us into submission.

“We made them take tough shots but they got too many offensive boards and they’re too good not to capitalise on multiple shots per possession.”