By Jackson Russell

Whittlesea Pacers split their Big V games over the weekend with the men scoring a 73-61 road win over Coburg Giants while the women suffered a 55-37 loss at home to Southern Peninsula Sharks.

A back and forth first half saw the Pacers men take a two-point lead into half-time.

Whittlesea coach Brian Vaughns said the team’s defence finally improved.

“We came up with stops when we needed stops and that was better. Our defence has been letting us down and I think we played better defence this game,” he said.

“Our opponents have been shooting above 50 per cent all season but we were able to hold Coburg under 30 per cent. If we can stop giving up high percentage shots, we give ourselves a chance.”

Whittlesea controlled the game in the second half but couldn’t quite run away with it as the Giants would come back every time the Pacers started to get a bit of momentum.

A 19-13 third term pushed the Pacers’ lead out to as much as 10.

Coburg was able to fight back at the beginning of the fourth period, closing the gap to four before three quick buckets pushed the Pacers lead back out to 11.

Another quick run late had the Pacers up 14 as the pace quickened as the Giants attempted to come back again but to no avail.

Bradley Hassall shot the lights out, making seven of his eight three-point attempts for 21 points while Hakeem Simon was a monster in the paint with 15 points and a massive 18 rebounds.

“I told Hakeem before the last game that he has to step up. I made no bones about it, he has to be a dominant force,” Vaughns said.

The Pacers women’s struggles continued in their wire-to-wire loss to Southern Peninsula Sharks.

A poor shooting night was costly for the Pacers, shooting just 16-74 (.216) from the field and missing all 10 of their three-point attempts.

Dani Reinwald led the Pacers with 15 points and 11 rebounds while fellow American Rachel Bell struggled with just five points on 2-16 shooting.

Jamilla Georgi chipped in with 11 points and seven rebounds.