NYA Mason’s dominant fashion prompted Ballarat Rush to tweak its offence and play into her strong form.
While Rush came close to pulling off a big comeback, it narrowly fell six points short in Hobart for the start of a Tasmanian road trip in the South East Australian Basketball League on Friday night.
Mason made 19 points, 15 rebounds before she chalked up her fifth foul to be sent off with about two minutes to play.
It was a finish Integra Rush coach Peter Cunningham conceded his team probably did not deserve to win.
Cunningham said Hobart had clearly been the better, more consistent team with Kathleen Scheer (19 points) and fellow Chargers’ import Kylie McCauley creating havoc for his team and allowing the Chargers to dictate play.
Rush was floundering, down 21-9, at the first break but fought back within two points late in the final term. A couple of close calls could have changed the outcome.
“We’re a little bit disappointed but we take some satisfaction out of it,” Cunningham said.
“Our trademark and our culture is that we’ll always fight it out to the end and we still made a good fight out of it when they could have completely blown us away ... our girls have an expectation of winning matches now, rather than just aiming to be competitive this season.”
Rush’s usual spark was missing from the opening term and the team’s collective sharp shooting had dropped to 19 per cent accuracy.
Cunningham said the key to the turnaround was determination.
Rush played about with defensive structure, out of necessity, and modified offensive runs.
Steph Cumming played unscathed after a week sidelined due to damage from a dislocated finger on her shooting hand and put up 16 points.
Young gun Kasey Burton had a run on Scheer in the third quarter and kept the Women’s National Basketball League player to six points.
Rush will travel to Launceston to face the Tornadoes on Saturday.