EACH game, Ballarat Rush coach Donna Rinaldi demands her players take a little more responsibility at both ends of the court.
Rinaldi was impressed with how each player responded on Saturday night to claim a five-point win against one of the competition’s most unpredictable outfits at the Minerdome.
Canberra boasts a squad of experienced South East Australian Basketball League players – despite being its first year in SEABL – topped up with the club’s Women’s National Basketball League talent.
The Capitals roster includes WNBL champion captain Kellie Abrams, who did not make the trip to her hometown, and former Ballarat Lady Miner Michelle Cosier (nee Musslewhite), who warmed up for the match but remained on the bench.
But the Capitals still served up a tough match and Auslec Rush was constantly forced to work hard in fending them off.
“I’m definitely really proud of our intent from the start,” Rinaldi said.
“We were aggressive at the defensive end, offensively we shared the ball and moved well – we really executed our stuff, we battled away and stuck with it.
“...They’re still not at their best but we’re not at our best yet either.”
Rush hit hard early to build an eight-point lead by quarter-time with guard Andrea McMahon leading the charge on nine points.
The Capitals clawed back in the second to even scores 30-all by half-time, despite losing restricted player Molly Lewis early in the term with an ankle injury.
Play remained high pressure in the third but the Capitals remained scoreless until almost seven minutes into the term when they were sent to the free-throw line.
A late scoring flurry allowed the Capitals to sit seven points down at the final term but Rush again held strong and McMahon produced another nine-point quarter to finish with 18 points.
Nat Taylor was kept relatively contained on 16 points, five rebounds, but Rinaldi said her players worked well to share the work load.
Co-captain Kate Willey was a tough, physical headache for the Capitals, chalking up 12 points, 10 rebounds. Cass Hobbs took some heavy knocks but was aggressive back in pulling in eight rebounds – seven taken in defence.
Rinaldi said Kellie Berry had her best game with some solid minutes while Kelly Richardson did exactly what she had to when thrown on court, under pressure, and scored from a handy lay-up.
Rush rested youngster Sophie Alexander with a foot injury but are hopefully she will be back on court for Saturday night’s away match against Albury-Wodonga.