The Adelaide Thunderbirds have snapped a five-game losing skid and kept their Super Netball finals hopes alive by beating Sunshine Coast Lightning 51-44.
The visiting Thunderbirds got the job done at USC Stadium on Saturday night with exceptional defence allied by accurate shooting, connecting at 92 per cent to the Lightning’s off-colour 62 per cent.
The brilliant Shamera Sterling led the defensive charge, chalking up seven rebounds, five deflections and three intercepts, giving the Lightning’s shooters nightmares all match with her athleticism and anticipation.
“It’s good to get intercepts when they’re capitalised (on) by your shooters,” Sterling said after the Thunderbirds leapfrogged the Lightning into fifth spot on the ladder.
“We came here with the mindset that we wanted to win and take off some of that ladder pressure.
“As of now, it’s just a deep grind to get into that top-four spot.”
With Sterling starring, the visitors took a 13-10 edge at the first break as the well ran bone-dry for the Lightning, who went scoreless for more than six minutes either side of quarter-time.
Steph Wood was wayward all evening and Cara Koenen looked short of a gallop in her return to action after missing last week’s landslide loss to the Giants with COVID-19.
With Tayla Williams having an influence after being injected off the bench into the centre for Adelaide, the buffer blew out to nine goals early in the third stanza.
Laura Scherian was moved to the middle and Annie Miller promoted to wing attack, the changes helping Sunshine Coast seriously rally twice in the second half.
With the Thunderbirds penalty-prone and turnover-riddled, the Lightning trimmed the deficit to three goals before Adelaide responded and stretched their advantage back out to 39-31 at the final change.
The home side mounted one more charge in the fourth but their poor shooting came back to haunt them and a 5-0 spree from Thunderbirds goal shooter Lenize Potgieter inside the last three minutes put the Lightning away for good.