Sturt Sabres 102| Eastern Mavericks 74
Sturt comfortably accounted for a struggling Eastern side, 102-74, jumping out of the blocks early to seize control and record another vital win in this tight finals race.
Jacob Rigoni got Sturt off to a flyer with 12 first quarter points, setting the tone early and getting the bench to their feet.
When Jan Warbout chimed in with consecutive three-pointers, Sturt led 21-2 inside just four minutes of play.
The Mavericks coaches were furious with another slow start, calling a time out and giving their team a very audible dressing down. This old fashioned treatment seemed to work, with Eastern clawing back the margin to 12 at the first break, 25-13.
The second quarter was a much more competitive affair, both teams traded baskets in a shooting flurry.
Mavericks Sebastian Vozzo nailed three long range efforts, whilst Max Calligeros was making his mark in the key for the Sabres with 10 points to half-time- in one of his best games of the season.
Sturt was finishing off well shooting over 65% from the field, allowing the lead to push past 20 points.
Eastern did again push back, but it was the Sabres who held a strong mental and scoreboard advantage going into the main change.
Sturt continued to dictate the play after the break, with Warbout collecting another three as the Sabres found plenty of open shots.
Sturt’s electric ball movement was causing headaches for the Mavericks, with Sam Daly especially pivotal recording nine assists in a passing clinic.
Devon McGee was fighting tirelessly under the rim for Eastern, but their poor shooting and failure to slow the Sabres momentum meant the lead was a comfortable 30 going into the last.
McGee kept urging his side on well into the last term, finishing the match with a classy dunk and a game-high 23 points. However, his efforts couldn’t overturn a sizeable margin- Sturt doing it easy as the heat faded from the match.
Claybrin McMath was excellent in the second half (19 points, six rebounds), providing a strong target and pulling down some strong boards.
Whilst Rigoni (22 points, eight boards) and Calligeros (14 points) were less eye-catching in the second half, they continued to play their role, finishing amongst Sturt’s best after setting the tone early.
There is much to like about this team-orientated Sabres side (32 assists and 49 bench points), who could surprise a few come finals time.
Conversely, the Mavericks were competitive for patches like in many of their games this year, but succumbed to Sturt’s pressure and chose poor shooting opportunities.
Their poor shooting percentage could be a positive in disguise, with Coach Jason Warhurst fully aware they can put up enough shots, however finding a way to see more of them fall still proves a challenge.