The Steggles Sydney Uni Sparks competed until the final whistle, but came up just short, as they suffered an 83-78 defeat at the hands of the visiting Launceston Tornadoes.
The game was neck and neck for the first 3 quarters. The Sparks led by 1 point after the first quarter, led by Tahlia Tupaea who tallied 8 points at the first break. It was still close throughout the second quarter with the Tornadoes getting the edge by 2 at the main break. An even third quarter had the visitors still leading by 2 at the end of the third quarter.
Lara McSpadden tied the game 56-56 for the Sparks at the beginning of the last term. However, the Tornadoes then went on an 11-0 run, which would prove to be too large a deficit for the Sparks to reclaim. Scoring didn’t seem a problem for either team during the match, however lapses in defence and turnovers at inopportune times would end up costing the Sparks the game.
Sparks Assistant Coach Belinda Snell commented on the match. “Friday’s game was a close physical battle for our girls. Launceston are a quality SEABL team, with some experienced WNBL players. We showed some good patches throughout the game, unfortunately allowing 21pts from turnovers cost us down the stretch.”
There were some outstanding individual performances on both teams. Tahlia Tupaea led the Sparks yet again with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. There were also strong contributions from Susi Walmsley (17 points, 5 assists), Sarah Graham (12 points, 8 rebounds) and Shanae Greaves (10 points, 5 rebounds).
The Sparks post defence was much improved as they were able to keep Taylah Roberts, the league’s leading scorer, to 14 points, under half of her season average. However, this opened up gaps on the perimeter with Mansfield and Nicholson stepping up for the Tornadoes.
The loss puts the Sparks at 2-3 for the season as they head into this weekend’s away double header.
On Saturday 6th May at 6pm, the Sparks take on the Ballarat Rush at the Minerdome in Ballarat. The Sparks then play the Nunawading Spectres in Nunawading on Sunday 7th May at 12pm.