The Southern Design Sydney Uni Sparks put together an inspired performance on Saturday night to take down one of the league favourites, the Nunawading Spectres. Relishing the role of the underdog, the Sparks came away with an 83-66 victory on their home court. The win moves them up into equal fourth spot on the ladder alongside Dandenong.
The Sparks were able to score the first couple of points of the game off a lay-up from Lara McSpadden. The scores went back and forth early, before the home side were able to pull away mid-way through the first. The Sparks took a one point lead into the first quarter, however a dominant second quarter saw them outscore the Spectres 25-12 in the second. The home side capitalised on Nunawading’s turnovers and missed shots and took a 43-29 lead into half time.
Knowing that a quality team like the Spectres would not go down without a fight, especially boasting talent such as last month’s SEABL MVP Mareena Whittle and fellow WNBL player Vanessa Panousis, the Sparks were made to work for each one of their points. Fortunately, Sydney Uni were able to string together a fantastic 40 minute performance and come away 17 point victors.
The Sparks have had a few of key focusses over the last couple of weeks; to apply pressure on defence and keep their turnovers down. They were able to achieve this for majority of the game, keeping the Spectres to 36% shooting and forcing them into 20 turnovers. Sydney Uni were able to cap their turnovers at just 12 and added 23 assists (Susannah Walmsley, 8 assists and Tahlia Tupaea, 7 assists) to give themselves greater opportunities to score.
Led by Shanae Greaves who finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds, the Sparks dominated the paint, scoring 40 of their points inside the key. Lara McSpadden also contributed greatly to this, whilst protecting her own paint, scoring 16 points and adding 3 blocks. Tahlia Tupaea once again excelled at both ends of the floor finishing with 15 points, 7 assists and 5 steals.
Sydney Uni will have to pack their winter warmers as they head back on the road this weekend for two games in Tasmania. They take on the Hobart Chargers on Monday at 6pm on Friday 18th May, followed by the Launceston Tornadoes at 6:30pm on Saturday 19th May.