The Ballarat Miners have made it three wins from three games after a seven-point win on the road against the Dandenong Rangers in round three of the NBL1.
The game was a tale of two halves as Ballarat showed off their energy and athleticism early before stagnating in the second half.
The injection of American import Jerry Evans Jr - who scored a team high 23 points - into the starting lineup certainly energised the team in the first half as they dominated Dandenong on the scoreboard (56-31) and statistically.
Evans Jr was dynamic at the forward position, seemingly scoring whenever he felt inclined and locking down his opposition man.
Miners Captain Sam Short had been averaging over 20 points per game coming into the contest but struggled to get into rhythm against Dandenong, only attempting four shots in the game, all of which he missed. Short did manage to hit seven of his eight free-throws.
Ballarat native Tristan Fisher again put together a solid shooting contribution off the bench, stretching the floor with his three-point shooting (two three-pointers) and finding his teammates for easy baskets (four assists).
The Rangers flipped the game on it's head in the second half, hitting five three pointers after hitting none in the first half and clamping down on the Miners defensively.
Veteran center Tim Lang led the way for the Rangers, putting up a team high 18 points, including nine points in the final quarter to help reduce the Miners lead.
After trailing by as much as 27, Dandenong cut the deficit to as little as five as they pushed towards an improvable comeback.
It was not meant to be however as some clutch moments on both ends of the court from Miners center Deng Acouth steadied Ballarat and allowed them to hold on and remain undefeated. Acouth finish the game with 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
The win keeps the Miners unbeaten on top of the ladder going their next game against the Knox Raiders on the road on Saturday, 27 April.
What begun as a strong showing has ended up as a terrible result for the Ballarat Rush as import point guard Chanise Jenkins left their 90-73 loss to the Dandenong Rangers with an injury.
Jenkins and the Rush were competitive early in their NBL1 round three outing, trading leads with Dandenong throughout much of the first half.
Early in the second quarter Jenkins fell to the ground following a screen and had to be helped off the court by Rush coach Eric Hayes.
Hayes said the team has heard no word on the severity of the injury as of yet.
"We're not really sure what happened," he said.
"She ran into a screen, we think she might of banged knees... she'll go to the physio and get some tests done this week."
From that point on, the Rangers were able to maintain their lead for the rest of the game before eventually winning by 17 points.
It was a rough game for many of Ballarat's stars with foul trouble playing a large factor in the loss. Starters Joy Burke, Olivia Hackman and Laura Taylor all played limited minutes due to fouling out.
Hayes said he was disappointing with some of the 'tough' calls the Rush received.
"We needed to adjust to the officiating, when they're calling it really close we need play accordingly."
Relying heavily on their bench, 17-year-old Georgia Amoore top scored for the Rush, registering 15 points in her 30 minutes of play.
Amoore's performance pleased Hayes who expects her to play a large role for the team across the season.
"She's a really dynamic player," he said.
"She's difficult to stop, especially off the dribble."
Playing the majority of the point guard minutes following the Jenkins injury, Amoore struggled protecting the ball, turning the ball over seven times.
Hayes said that was partly his fault for leaving her in the game without rest for long spells.
"When you have the responsibility to score and facilitate like Georgia did you're bound to make some mistakes... my rotations didn't help, I think a lot of those turnovers came purely from fatigue."
Saturday's loss marks Ballarat's third loss in as many games. Hayes is confident his team can continue building and get positive results going forward.
"Each game we've gotten better and better, I don't even think it will be about finding better form, it's more about capitalising on the great play we've showcased so far."
The Rush will have a week off over the Easter break before returning to take on the Knox Raiders on the road on Saturday, 27 April.
BALLARAT MINERS - 22,34,13,11: 80
DANDENONG - 13,18,19,23: 73
SCORERS: MINERS - Evans Jr 23 (2 three-pointers), Kuany 16 (4), Acouth 10, Fisher 8 (2), Short 7, Fox 6, Dunmore 6 (2), Lingard 4. RANGERS - Lang 18 (1), Kenyon 15, Froling 12 (1), Barker 12 (1), Leaupepe 5 (1), Robertson 4, Biyendolo 4, Soukup 3 (1)
REBOUNDS - Miners 41, Rangers 26
ASSISTS - Miners 17, Rangers 14
STEALS - Miners 6, Rangers 7
BLOCKS - Miners 6, Rangers 1
TURNOVERS - Miners 16, Rangers 12
FOULS - Miners 15, Rangers 15
BALLARAT RUSH - 23,16,19,15: 73
DANDENONG - 26,23,18,23: 90
SCORERS: RUSH - Amoore 15, Hackman 13 (1), Constable 11 (3), Burke 9 (1), Cochrane 9, Jenkins 7 (1), Blower 5, Taylor 2, Mckenzie 2. RANGERS - Clydesdale 28 (4), Planeta 27, Giliam 13 (1), Lopes 9, Anstey 4, Fadljevic 3 (1), Puli 2, Stothard 2, Morgan 2.
REBOUNDS - Rush 41, Rangers 35
ASSISTS - Rush 20, Rangers 15
STEALS - Rush 12, Rangers 6
BLOCKS - Rush 1, Rangers 3
TURNOVERS - Rush 19, Rangers 10
FOULS - Rush 24, Rangers 15