Force and Rollers upset Capitals and Roar to advance

BEING on the road for a do-or-die quarter final up against a quality opponent did not phase either Gold Coast Rollers or Ipswich Force as the fifth and sixth placed sides upset the fourth and third placed lineups, RedCity Roar and Brisbane Capitals respectively. The results mean that top of the table Logan Thunder will now play the sixth placed Force in the semi-finals, whilst the second placed Southern District Spartans will lock horns with the Rollers.

RedCity Roar (62) defeated by Gold Coast Rollers (97)

Only percentage separated the two sides heading into the final, with RedCity Roar traditionally a higher scorer, averaging 77.5 points to the Rollers’ 70.5, whilst also conceding a higher 73.5 to 62.5. It was only the latter number that rung true in the end as the away side Rollers held the Roar to just 62 points during the 35-point win to shock the crowd.

The Roar went into the game without one of their star WNBL talents in Lauren Mansfield, which left a lot on the shoulders of Tall Ferns star, Ashleigh Karaitiana. It was clear throughout the contest that the Rollers were going to make more of their opportunities and their long-range shooting – dropping 16 of 37 triple attempts at 43.2 per cent efficiency – was going to be a problem.

Gold Coast also had seven less shot from inside the arc but was more effective (20/42 to 19/49). The Rollers led the rebounds (47-40), assists (26-16), steals (8-7) and second chance points (13-9) and also had less turnovers (11-16). The Roar managed to level with two blocks apiece, but otherwise it was all the Rollers who were deserving 97-62 winners in the quarter final.

Playing just 19 minutes on court, Gold Coast’s Skye Mason made the most with a deadly eight of 11 from the field, including four of six three-pointers to finish with 21 points and adding a block for good measure. No Rollers’ players had more than 29 minutes on court, with Siarn Woods‘ achieving that feat on her way to 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals in a best-on-court performance.

Meanwhile Carleigh Patrick (22 minutes) had 14 points, six rebounds and two assists, Lilly Rotunno (24) had seven points, five rebounds and five assists, and Sarah Ambrose (23) finished with seven points, eight rebounds and five assists. Finally, the defensive effort by Kisha Lee to rack up 10 rebounds to go with six points and four assists in just 16 minutes was sensational.

Despite playing the equal most minutes of any player and trying her heart out, Karaitiana finished with 18 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals in a good effort by the Rollers to hold her. Charmian Mellars stepped up to pick up a double-double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and three assists, whilst Ajiah-Liric Siosiua-Pepe was the only Roar player with an field goal efficiency greater than 40 per cent, making two triples on her way to 14 points, two rebounds and two assists. Kayla Kiriau was the other Roar player to reach double-figure points with 10, as well as five rebounds and three assists.

Brisbane Capitals (76) defeated by Ipswich Force (79)

It was heartbreak for the home fans at Auchenflower Stadium yesterday, as the Brisbane Capitals also suffered a defeat in the quarter finals, going down to Ipswich Force by three points. In the scheme of things just two wins separated the third placed Capitals from the six placed Force heading into the match, with the latter actually better offensively (77.4 to 74.2 points per game), while the former were better defensively (63.5 to 72.4 points conceded).

The match went down to the wire with both teams having their chances in a game of two halves, and in the end it was the Force’s long-range accuracy – 12 of 28 at 42.9 per cent – that stood out. The Capitals hit just 26.7 per cent – four of 15 – from that range, whilst also having double the opportunities from inside the arc. Making 66 attempts, the home side only drained 23, whilst the Force hit 16 of 33 with a higher efficiency.

The sheer volume of possession and shots put up by the Capitals was deserving of victory, as they also dominated the rebounds (54-30), and won the assists (18-15), steals (11-7) and second chance points (21-5), whilst the Force topped the blocks (3-2). In most cases those kind of numbers would lead to a Capitals’ win, but instead the efficiency of the Force helped the lowest ranked finalist get over the line and earn a crack at minor premiers, Logan Thunder.

Amy Lewis embodied the Force’s game on court with an outstanding best-on performance. She sank a match-high 32 points, six rebounds, four assists and one steal playing every minute to ensure her team got over the line. She was well aided by Georgia Ralph (16 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four steals) who was incredibly strong defensively to deny the opposition.

Also hitting double-figure points, Catherine Macgregor knocked down 13 points, and had eight rebounds and two assists, whilst Rachel Mate finished with 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and a block. The Force’s starting five – including Iris Cubit – spent at least 29 minutes on court each whilst scoring all of their points in a dominant effort.

The Capitals favoured heavy rotations, sharing the court time around with eight players earning 17 or more minutes, with Meg Essex (36 minutes) leading the way in many facets, dropping a team-high 26 points and 11 rebounds. Emma Read (18 points, three rebounds and two assists) was the other player to find her range with a greater than 40 per cent efficiency.

The three other starters played their role but struggled with accuracy as Anna Cameron picked up a whopping 16 rebounds – 12 off the offensive boards to give her side second-chance efforts – but could only manage four points with 2/10 from the field. Madison Woodford also achieved that 2/10 field goal attempts, but picked up the nine rebounds and four steals, while Georgia Woolley had 11 points, as well as three rebounds and two assists, but would have loved to have capitalised more from the field with just three from 13 makes.

Picture: Brad Anderson

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