Sturt has recorded a crucial away win, pushing past South Adelaide in a strong second half, 73-59.
In a fast start, both teams seemed a little tense, turning the ball over and creating offensive opportunities aplenty. It was South’s playmaker Teonna Campbell that needed no invitation, collecting 10 first quarter points in a terrific display.
At the other end, Hannah Richards was providing a good presence under the rim for the Sabres, but it would be the Panthers holding a narrow five-point lead at the first break.
South took the ascendancy early in the second, largely on the back of some excellent work from Danita Goodwin, with the tenacious ball-carrier weaving through traffic for a nice layup before knocking down consecutive three-pointers.
Sturt called a timeout as the margin grew to 14 points, with Coach Marcus Wong urging his side to focus and calm down with the ball in hand.
The Sabres did respond with a 13-2 run, typified by a strong block from Sarah Elsworthy on Campbell, narrowing the gap to just six at the half.
Sturt continued to press South with Kate Gladstone’s sharp shooting from range particularly damaging. Gladstone had 13 third quarter points and at one stage was 5/6 beyond the arc, with South in desperate need to limit her impact.
Chelsea Green responded from deep for the Panthers, but the Sabres were in control at the final change, despite only leading by four points.
South piled the pressure on Sturt, getting to within as close as two points, however, it was the team endeavour and quick passing that allowed the Sabres to stand firm. Caroline Burgess highlighted this team play with a mammoth 13 rebounds and 17 points, showing great leadership out on court as one of Sturt’s key players.
Teonna Campbell burned brightly but was extinguished midway during the last, fouling out, all but ending slim hopes of a Panthers win. She was South’s best with 18 points, 8 boards and 5 assists. Maddie Cunningham also toiled hard (10 points), but the Panthers will feel they definitely let one slip, especially given their lead in the second.
Lauren Gibbons collected back-to-back three’s as the heat began to fade, Sturt eventually running out 13 point winners.
The Sabres have a difficult matchup against the Tigers on Super Sunday but will need to be at least competitive if they are any hope of making an impact come finals time.