Legend Harrower retires with a win
12 January 2015
BASKETBALL: Retiring Australian basketball star Kristi Harrower has gone out a winner, with Bendigo Spirit winning her final WNBL game.
Bendigo sent Australian basketball legend Kristi harrower into retirement on a perfect note, while undersized Dandenong have proven they are genuine WNBL title contenders by toppling leaders Townsville.
Harrower, 39 this week, announced her retirement after revealing she was 16 weeks pregnant.
She came off the bench near the end of second-placed Bendigo's 75-64 home win over Adelaide on Sunday, scoring one point in just under two minutes, as the Lightning fouled her to give Harrower a chance to get on the board in her final game.
Harrower was chaired off the court in scenes reminiscent of the last of her 200-plus games for the Opals at the 2012 Olympics.
Her extraordinary resume includes four Olympic medals (three silver and a bronze) a world championship, three WNBL titles, a WNBL season MVP award and seven WNBL All Star nominations.
"It was vitally important that we got the win today, but I think it took a bit of a back seat to the emotion of the day," Harrower's father and Bendigo coach Bernie Harrower told AAP.
"I think the day was all about Kristi and wanting to send her off in the right way.
"The girls were good. They came ready to play for her and wanted to make sure it was a win."
Kristi Harrower, who opened up a business in Bendigo last month, will continue as an assistant coach with the Spirit.
Bendigo will however get another Opal back soon, with forward Elyse Penaluna expected to return in two weeks from a long-term knee injury.
The win moved them to an 11-4 record, just behind Townsville, 11-3.
Surging Dandenong, who are joint third with Melbourne on 9-7, made it seven wins from their last eight starts with a 92-87 away victory over Townsville.
Cappie Pondexter, Penny Taylor and Kathleen MacLeod all scored 23 for Dandenong.
They won despite strong contributions from Townsville's formidable frontcourt duo of Suzy Batkovic (30 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and three blocks) and Cayla Francis (18 points, 10 rebounds).
"It's lovely to see that a group that was 2-6 and being written off early as a team that was never going to make it, turning it around slowly but surely and starting to put some pretty big wins together," Dandenong coach Mark Wright told AAP.
"It is our biggest win of the season and against the in-form Fire. They've been absolutely spanking teams. It was a really good win.
Melbourne stayed in the finals race with a 96-66 home thrashing of Adelaide, who have lost 13 of 16 games.
Sydney (8-7) and Canberra (7-9) each maintained their playoff hopes with big home wins over second from bottom West Coast.
The Caps won 87-52 On Friday with Abby Bishop scoring 21 and Lauren Jackson 15, and Sydney triumphed 80-55 on Saturday.