Panthers fall to Bandits on Southern Road trip

Atien Acuel scores in the paint for Penrith against Albury.  Photo courtesy of Tanya Hawkins Photography.

The Penrith Panthers senior men’s and women’s basketball teams have lost both games of their road trip to Albury on the weekend, with the women falling 99-76 and the men 86-71 in Round 8 of the NBL1 East Basketball competition.

The Albury-Wodonga women’s team were without star centre Lauren Jackson on Saturday night, but her absence was well covered by American import Unique Thompson, who finished with a double-double of 21 points and 19 boards, followed by her countrywoman Mikayla Pivec with 22 points, 8 boards, 5 assists and 2 steals.

Tahlia Tupaea was again outstanding for the Panthers, finishing as the game-high scorer with 30 points, ahead of Mia Heide with a double-double of 22 points and 18 boards, and Chloe Williams 12 points.

The Panthers trailed 28-18 at the end of the first quarter, 50-35 at half time and 71-55 at the final break in play, before the Bandits eventually won by 23 points.

The men’s game was tight for the first half, with Penrith trailing 21-18 at the first break and 45-38 at half time, before the Bandits stretched the lead to double figures (69-55) at the final break in play.

The Panthers again showed a willingness to compete hard in the final term, outscoring the Bandits 9-0 in the opening minutes to put the game back into contention. That run however was short-lived, with the Bandits again consolidating their lead and eventually running out winners by 15 points.

Kevion Blaylock was a major difference between the two teams, leading the Bandits with game-high 27 points, ahead of Lochlan Cummings 22. Brodie Schwarzer was the only Penrith player to reach double figures, finishing with 11 points, 5 boards, 6 assists.

Both Penrith teams have a double-header in Round 9, hosting the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence on Saturday night (women 5.30pm, men 7.30pm), before travelling to the Hills Basketball Stadium, Castle Hill on Sunday to face the Hills District Hornets (women 11am, men 1pm).