Battle continues for Pioneers women

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The search for a maiden NBL1 South win continues for the One Forty One Mount Gambier Pioneers women after a character-build-ing defeat to Ringwood Hawks on Saturday night.

After losing valiantly in the opening two rounds, Pioneers’ coach Matt Sutton would have had high hopes for his team after Sherrie Calleia made the first basket. But the home fans only enjoyed 54 seconds on the limelight before the Hawks stole the lead and never looked back.

Funda Nakkasoglu started in style with a three-pointer and maintained a high standard of shooting throughout the night to finish with a game-high 26 points. Despite losing out by 16 points across the first half, Mount Gambier went goal for goal in a much-improved third term.

Jasmin Howe and Hannah Young displayed some fine form around the ring to ensure Ringwood only extended its lead by a meagre one point before the final break. Unfortunately, the Pioneers ran out of puff in the closing stages and could not keep up with the Hawks.

Ringwood’s fast ball movement caught the Pioneers off guard as the visitors outscored the home side 35-8 in a damaging final chapter. WNBL star Marena Whittle gave Nakkasoglu strong support with 20 points of her own, while Shakera Reilly, Young and Calleia all reached double figures on a tough night.

Mount Gambier coach Matt Sutton said there was a lot to unpack from the 44-point defeat. “Ringwood is a class outfit with good size and we got find out,” he said. “But when you go down by that much it is a good opportunity to get everyone through and we gave Sarah Ritter her first ever minutes and it was nice to see Emily Dawe coming back from an ACL injury.

“Some of the girls were a bit tired and there were some things to address because there is always plenty to learn from a game like that.”

The Pioneers face the tall order of a double header on the road this weekend against Dandenong and Melbourne Tigers, who sit 14th and fifth on the ladder respectively.

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