Two narrow losses force the Rush back into the pack

DOUBLE narrow losses in Tasmania has pushed Ballarat Rush back into the pack.

A one-point loss to Launceston on Saturday night also had a double-blow – it was captain Kristy Rinaldi’s 200th South East Australian Basketball League game.

Rinaldi offered her trademark steady play and Steph Cumming was back to her shooting best with 32 points, including four three-pointers.

But in a tight game, Integra Rush failed to make the most of its chances where Launceston did.

Played before a roaring crowd in Ulverstone – a rare move for the Tornadoes to share the limelight at North-West Tasmania’s home base and cutting down Ballarat’s overall travel – Rush just could not polish off the shots it needed most.

Even a Cumming basket in the final play went up and rolled out on the rim.

Rush coach Peter Cunningham said it was a disappointing loss in the scheme of the competition, especially Rush’s precarious footing in a tough east conference.

“Clearly it was the same pattern as the night before (in Hobart), where we’re shooting 80 points and not keeping the other team under 60 or 70,” Cunningham said.

“We won’t win if we can’t improve our defence.

“We were getting out-rebounded and letting them have far too many second chances.

“So, it’s back to the drawing-board to tighten up a bit to help us out.” But there were, however, at least some pleasing signs for the Rush.

Sophie Alexander continued her steady comeback from a shoulder injury with six and 11-minute halves against the Tornadoes.

Bronte Clark picked up Lauren Mansfield, a back-up point guard for Women’s National Basketball League club Adelaide Lightning, and will certainly benefit from the experience of playing on such an opponent. Tornado star Nadeen Payne (33 points, 17 rebounds) dominated and Rush struggled to find an answer for her.

Rush, like the Miners, have a gruelling schedule this month.

The Rush faces Frankston at home on Saturday night and then must make a challenging trip to Dandenong on the Sunday.

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