NEWCASTLE Hunters passed their toughest test of the Waratah Basketball League women's championship on Saturday, outlasting Bankstown Bruins 76-64 at Bankstown to remain unbeaten.
Playing without injured starters Hannah Young (calf) and captain Jaimee Seebohm (ankle), and already missing back-up centre Gabriella Adams-Gavet (foot), Newcastle's depth was tested by one of the most physical teams in the league.
In their absence, guard Jasmin Howe (26 points, five rebounds), centre Lara McSpadden (19 points, six rebounds) and guard Mikaela Dombkins (12 points, five rebounds, four assists) stepped up to see off second-placed Bankstown's challenge and keep the Hunters (9-0) at the top of the table.
"We needed everyone to dig a little deeper under the circumstances, so it was a very pleasing, very rewarding team win," Newcastle coach Shannon Seebohm said.
"Bankstown are very tough and very hard to beat, especially on their home court, so it was a great effort by our girls to get the job done without a few of our more experienced players.
"We started the game well to establish a lead at half-time then were able to maintain that during the third and fourth quarters when Bankstown made a run at us."
The Hunters led 25-19 at quarter-time and 49-39 at the half. Bankstown pulled within five points midway through the third quarter but that was as close as they got, and the Hunters stretched their lead out to 19 late in the fourth period.
Newcastle's men's team had their best chance of securing their first win of the season, only to suffer an 88-84 overtime loss to Bankstown at Bankstown on Saturday.
The Hunters (0-9) led 18-7 during the first quarter and 62-52 at three-quarter time but the Bruins rallied with a 22-12 final term to level the scores 74-74 at the end of regulation time.
Jaidyn Goodwin's three-point shot two minutes into the extra period gave Newcastle a 79-78 lead but it was the only time the Hunters led during overtime as the Bruins went on to win by four.
Though obviously disappointed with another loss, Newcastle coach Anthony Foy saw some positive signs and was looking forward to further improvement in the second half of the season.
Five Newcastle players scored in double figures, led by Sharif Watson (19 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, four steals), Jacob Foy (16 points, 11 rebounds, three assists) and Lonnie Funderburke (16 points, eight rebounds).
Alex Clinton (15 points, three rebounds, two assists) and Goodwin (12 points, six rebounds, three assists) also made valuable contributions.
After two weeks on the road, both Newcastle teams will return home next Saturday for the club's annual Reunion Night against Hills Hornets.
AAP reports: Which Ben Simmons will show up when the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors clash in their do-or-die game seven?
Simmons was an unstoppable force in leading the 76ers to Thursday's game six 11-point demolition of the Raptors, but was a villain in the Raptors' 36-point thrashing of the 76ers in game five.
On Sunday (Monday 9am AEST) the 76ers and Raptors, with the series locked 3-3, will face off in Toronto to decide who will play Giannis Antetokounmpo's top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Meanwhile, Andrew Bogut has helped Golden State Warriors knock arch-rivals Houston out of the play-offs with a hard-fought 118-113 win in Houston on Friday to clinch the semi-final series 4-2.
The Warriors will take on the Portland Trail Blazers or Denver Nuggets.