IF any team knows how to win back-to-back games on the road, it’s the Mildura Lady Heat. Bronte Clark, Alyesha Lovett, Vanessa Power and teammates will have to do just that if they are to win the Big V Basketball Division 1 Women’s Championship against the Hawthorn Magic. Good luck ladies! Image: PAUL MENSCH

By MITCH RODD

ALREADY the underdogs, the Mildura Lady Heat can attack the rest of their Big V Basketball grand final series with absolutely no fear.

The Division 1 Women’s outfit lost a thrilling opening game of the premiership play-offs to the Hawthorn Magic by just two points, however constant double-header road trips could work to their advantage.

The tyranny of distance usually results in Mildura teams having to play games on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, much more often then their metro counterparts. Normally this wouldn’t be ideal, but it could be a secret weapon for the Lady Heat.

The Mildura side have also won nine of 12 games away from the Toyota Hothouse this season, compared to 10 of 15 at home.

Lady Heat coach, James Madigan, said the 89-87 defeat to the Magic was “a ripping game of basketball” and that the result was not from a lack of effort.

“The girls battled hard as always, but were up against a big team who were able to outreach them,” he said.

“These girls are huge. They’re at six-foot-four, six-foot-one, and our tallest is about five-11. They definitely had the reach advantage when it came to rebounds.

“We had our chances and we were still able to score, as shown by our 87 points.

“We’ve put ourselves in this position but we’ve worked hard for the whole season and this is the point where it all comes together.”

Hawthorn dominated the rebounds, grabbing 47 compared to Mildura’s 27.

Shooting stars Alyesha Lovett and Vanessa Power scored 29 and 23 points respectively for the Heat, but Magic import Nyilah Jamison-Myers (24 points and 15 rebounds) and Lara Edmanson (19 points and eight rebounds) led their side to victory.

Madigan, however is confident his tenacious side can still win the premiership if they can spark an upset tomorrow night at the Boroondara Sports Complex.

“If we can snag Saturday night, it opens it right up and we can run it out on Sunday,” he said.

“We’ve actually lost more games at home than on the road this year, so hopefully that might work in our favour as well.

“There’s no pressure on us now. We were the underdogs anyway, but this might take the pressure right off them because we have nothing to lose from here.

“We’re so used to being on the road and playing big double headers. Melbourne teams might have to do it once or twice a season, while it’s more often for us.

“It’s going to be tough, we don’t deny that, but we can guarantee all of the girls will be giving it their all as they have all year.”

Tip-off for Game 2 of the grand final series is at 6.30pm tomorrow night, while if needed, Game 3 on Sunday will begin at 2pm. Follow the scores live via bigv.com.au.