In one of their most complete performances of the season, the Frankston RSL Blues overwhelmed the Albury-Wodonga Bandits, running away with a commanding 101-75 victory.
Frankston never trailed, opening up a double-digit lead in the first half before lifting gears in the second half to pull away. Dan Trist continued his great season in collecting 25 points and 8 rebounds, while Bennie Lewis came off the bench to add 21 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists in an eye-catching performance.
The win however was soured by a first-half knee injury sustained by recently signed NBL star Lucas Walker. The Cairns Taipan recruit suited up for the Blues in their narrow loss to Mount Gambier on the road on Friday night for his first game. However he hurt his knee in the second quarter after playing almost 10 minutes, and would not return as he sat on the sidelines with his knee heavily iced.
Jumping out of the blocks early, the Blues looked sharp and dangerous through back-to-back three-pointers by Sam Muldrow and then Jake Macaulay. Muldrow drained a second triple just minutes later, and when Walker scored his fourth points of the game the Blues had burst out to a 13-5 lead.
With Trist starting to roll and Rob Linton finding range from the perimeter, the Blues were humming as they powered away to a 14 point lead heading into the second period.
Scoring dried up for both sides, with Albury-Wodonga reverting to a zone to try and stem the tide. Rashan Hassan was doing his best to keep the Bandits in the contest, making a living on the weak-side block. The hot shooting Blues went cold, with Albury-Wodonga making inroads into the lead to close to within 6 points at half time.
Whatever coach Andrew Harms said to his troops at the break worked, with the Blues back and firing on all cylinders in the third period. Trist scored the first 5 points on an 8-0 run that was capped by Linton’s big triple from the wing. While Hassan kept the scoring ticking over for the Bandits, Trist and Lewis put on a show. Trist and then Lewis threw down some big dunks, with the Melbourne United forward finishing a three-point play to push the margin out to 20 points.
For the Blues, it was much of the same in the final quarter as they quickly put the result beyond a doubt as Linton and Lewis drained consecutive triples to bury the Bandits. Linton landed his fourth trey of the game before Lewis fed Muldrow for the crowd-pleasing alley-oop dunk. With Frankston in complete control, Harms was able to rotate through his bench as his side romped to a big 26 point victory.
The home side dominated all facets of the game, going 49% from the fielding including 45% from beyond the arc.
Trist and Lewis did not play a lone hand, with Linton compiling his best offensive game for the Blues this season in pouring in 14 points with 4 assists. Muldrow continued his outstanding season in providing 16 points. For Albury-Wodonga, Hassan contributed a game-high 30 points and 5 rebounds.