Cyclones lose first match this season
THE Rockhampton Cyclones suffered their first loss of the 2015 Women's Queensland Basketball League (QBL) season, going down in the dying seconds to the Mackay Meteorettes by three points, 74-71, in Mackay on Saturday night.
It was a tough match for both teams.
The Cyclones were backing up after their emphatic 77-59 victory over the Townsville Flames the previous evening, after a three-week layoff.
The Meteorettes, meanwhile, came into the game under enormous pressure with just five wins from nine games.
Last year's QBL champions were in danger of missing the play-offs if they had lost to the Cyclones.
Mackay captain Fiona McGrath sensed some of the Cyclones were not on their game in the second match of their two-game northern road trip.
"Some of their players were a bit flat on the night with their second game on the road," McGrath said.
Cyclone coach Chris Muggeridge agreed.
"We sure were," he said.
"We were definitely flat. To play back-to-back matches against high-quality opposition in Townsville and then Mackay after three weeks off, we were low in the tank and it showed."
As a result, Muggeridge conceded the Meteorettes got the jump on his team and they had to play catch-up basketball.
"They came out firing and beat us in the first quarter 23-20," Muggeridge said.
"They had a lot on the line and had a lot more energy than us. If they lost this game they could be out of the finals.
"We rallied to win the second and third quarters and were looking comfortable in the last. With a minute and a half on the clock we were eight points up. We hung in there, then we got the better of them but when it counted, right at the end, we just ran out of gas."
Muggeridge said the home ground advantage was also critical against Mackay, as it will be in the return fixture in two weeks' time.
"It was pretty tough," Muggeridge said
"We had players fouled out and they had all the momentum with a large home crowd.
"It's our first loss and while that's disappointing we now have a point to prove. When they visit us at home in two weeks, if we play to our potential, I'm sure we can avenge the loss."
Muggeridge praised his team for their determination in difficult circumstances, particularly Alex Brady, who fell ill the night before.
"To play Townsville and then Mackay after three weeks off was super tough," Muggeridge said.
"Then Alex Brady was sick. She showed tremendous heart to even get out there and play 32 minutes.
"Chandrea Jones and Sam Norwood were both again outstanding, while Rebecca Haynes was excellent defensively."
Despite the loss, the Cyclones remain top of the Women's QBL ladder, seven from eight.