NEWCASTLE Hunters cruised to their second straight win of the Waratah Basketball League women's championship on Saturday, punishing Penrith Panthers 92-55 at Penrith.
After accounting for defending champions Norths Bears 75-48 in round one, Newcastle kept their opponents under 60 points for the second week in a row.
The Hunters led 16-9 at quarter-time and 39-20 by half-time, then went on with the job in the second half to extend their lead.
Newcastle coach Shannon Seebohm was pleased with the victory but said there were still areas they need to improve on to consider themselves as a legitimate title contender.
"It was great to pick up our second win of the season but I felt that the game showed that we still have a long way to go if we are to reach our full potential, particularly on the defensive end," Seebohm said.
"A big positive was the level of efficiency we showed at the offensive end of the court. Shooting 52 per cent from the field and accumulating 22 assists was phenomenal.
"As our team continues to learn how to play together and get a better understanding of each other's abilities, I think this output will only get even better."
Hannah Young led the Hunters with a game-high 24 points, including five three-pointers, and added eight rebounds and two steals. Jasmin Howe tallied 21 points and five assists, and captain Jaimee Seebohm contributed 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and two steals. Centre Lara McSpadden had nine points and nine rebounds and guard Kallie Hovatter chipped in with nine points off the bench.
Newcastle squandered an 18-point lead in the men's game to go down 65-62 to Penrith - their second straight loss to start their title defence.
Newcastle led 19-9 at quarter-time then stretched that to 27-9 early in the second term. The Panthers clawed back to trail 35-25 at half-time then took control with a 23-10 third quarter.
Trailing 62-55 with four minutes left in the game, Newcastle rallied with a 7-0 run to tie the game at 62-62 with two minutes and 53 seconds remaining but the Panthers closed out the game on the free-throw line.
Jakob Dorricott missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.
Sharif Watson led the Hunters with 20 points, 18 rebounds, four assists, four blocked shots and three steals.
Fellow import Lonnie Funderburke supported Watson with a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double and guard Jaidyn Goodwin added 13 points.
Newcastle's next games are against Sydney Comets at Broadmeadow on Saturday.