COMING up against one of the form sides was always going to be tough for the Sutherland Sharks, but a telling performance from Lauren Nicholson was enough to get them to victory.
In Round 9 of the NBL1 East Women’s competition over the weekend, the Sharks were matched up against the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence (CoE), who had lost just the one game so far in the 2023 season, three less than Sutherland.
The two sides went head to head at AIS Basketball and Netball Centre on Sunday afternoon in the final match of the round. Despite coming into the contest as underdogs, the Sharks won all four quarters on their way to a dominant victory. The result sees the Sharks jump into sixth spot in the standings, having hit strong form as the season has rolled on.
Nicholson was one of the key factors in getting Sutherland over the line, making her mark on both ends of the court in another strong performance for one of Australia’s premier guards.
BA CoE (66) def. by Sutherland Sharks (99)
Lauren Nicholson – 31 points, six rebounds, six assists, six steals, one block
Nicholson was back to her best for Sutherland in Sunday’s win, ensuring her impact on the contest was immense and causing plenty of headaches for the CoE.
Nicholson has long been one of the country’s best backcourt players, and further demonstrated why on Sunday afternoon. She scored a game-high 31 points on 12/20 shooting from the field, constantly popping up for a basket despite the defence’s best efforts.
Nicholson was at her best when firing off shots from inside the arc, providing a strong balance of inside scoring and mid-range shooting. From two-point territory, she nailed 10 shots on just 15 attempts, getting to her spots and punishing the opposition accordingly.
She was also able to crash the defensive boards, pulling down five of her six rebounds on this end of the court and ensuring to not let the CoE get any offensive production from second-chance points.
As expected, Nicholson was the team’s premier playmaker, a factor of her game that has been a standout for most of her career. The likes of Madeleine Norris and Aliza Fabbro were the beneficiaries of her strong passing, which ensured the team’s offence kept rolling.
Nicholson was no slouch defensively either, despite putting in an impressive effort on the other end of the court. She recorded a whopping six steals, frequently poking the ball away from the opposition’s grasp and continuing to generate plenty of momentum for the Sharks.
It was a classic performance from one of Australia’s best guards, with Nicholson showing her importance to the team with a magnificent two-way showing on the road.