Sturt Sabres 80| Eastern Mavericks 61
The Sabres led from start to finish, prevailing 80-61, after a strong first half overwhelmed the highly fancied visitors.
Sturt captain Caroline Burgess led by example early with an impressive 11 point first quarter, as she found plenty of space to pull up a number of jumpers.
Kayla Matthews was also lively from the outset, driving well into the key as the Sabres played a fast tempo game.
Mavericks Coach Nathan Jones was fired up and urged his team to respond, as Eastern looked rattled without one of their stars, Alex Wilson.
A late cameo from Lauren Gibbons ensured that Sturt’s lead remained in double-digits, 27-16, at quarter time.
The Sabres continued to press the Mavericks, causing turnovers and passing errors (26-5 points on turnovers) as their lead stretched beyond 20 points.
Elissa Brett was making a substantial impact from her limited minutes thus far with 10 points to the half, whilst Hannah Richards was unchallenged under the rim with a monumental 11 first-half rebounds.
The energetic Kedeisha Kartinyeri tried to provide Eastern with some much-needed run and dare, but it was Sturt that had all the answers and a 21 point lead at the main break.
Both teams entertained a good Pasadena crowd in the third, in a very open display. Kate Gladstone knocked a couple of threes (four for the night), whilst Hayley Wadforth proved a sharp shooter within the arc with eight points at over 80%.
Despite remaining competitive, Eastern struggled to get any continuity and Sturt remained near 20 point leaders as the game descended into its final minutes.
Whilst a quieter night on points, Sarah Elsworthy was instrumental in Sturt’s passing game with six assists and ensured that a late Mavericks charged couldn’t gain any momentum.
Burgess finished with 19 points and six rebounds, complemented extremely well by Brett’s (14 points, seven boards) bright game. Both Hannah Richards and Stewart were important under the rim for Sturt, combining for 23 boards.
Rachel Hines collected a near double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds for Eastern, but there wasn’t any player that could honestly say that they were happy with their performance.
The Mavericks have now lost their top spot, slipping to third on the back of two losses in their last three games.
Only time will tell if Eastern can arrest their form slump and seriously challenge, with many now questioning if they peaked too early and will ultimately fizzle out come finals.