Tag: crystal langhorne

2019/20 WNBL preview: Round 14 – Make or break round for Capitals

CLASHES against the top two sides makes Round 14 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) a belter for the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. Aside from those couple of thrilling contests, Adelaide Lightning is still looking to keep a step ahead in third, while the Boomers and Flyers hope to solidify their top two spots ahead of finals.

UC CAPITALS vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Friday, January 17, 7pm
National Convention Centre

Opening up the weekend is a huge top four clash between reigning premiers, UC Capitals and Melbourne Boomers. With a four-game gap between fourth and fifth, the Capitals are secure in the knowledge they will play finals, but will hope to win this game to draw one win closer to the top two Boomers. Finishing fourth means the Capitals will not be able to host two home finals in the series, and will be travelling for the majority of the time – predominantly to Victoria. If they can win, then it leaves the race for second wide open, as the Southside Flyers look to have secured top spot on the WNBL table. In the two previous meetings the teams are one win apiece with the Boomers thrashing the Capitals by 35 points back in Round 3, before the Capitals earned a hard-fought three-point win a couple of weeks later. The Capitals have proven to be near-impossible to beat at home with a 6-1 win-loss record there, though the Boomers are just as impressive on the road with six wins from eight encounters. In the absence of injured star Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling has stood up of late to be a bonafide starter, posting 14.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game this season, teaming well with the equally impressive Marianna Tolo (13.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks). Tolo will be particularly important to try and quell the influence of Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor of whom the pair of forward-center’s combining for 26 points and 15 rebounds.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, January 17, 7pm
Titanium Security Arena

Down in South Australia, third placed Adelaide Lightning will be keen to take advantage of the result from the Capitals-Boomers clash and either move one win closer to Melbourne or one win further away from UC. The season is done and dusted for Townsville who sit four and a half games outside of fourth spot. The Fire will still be keen to have a strong finish to the year and push for fifth spot, and back-to-back wins over Round 14 would likely see them achieve that spot, albeit temporarily. The Lightning are fairly strong at home with a 6-3 win-loss record, while the Fire on the road have been shaky to say the least, winning just two of nine attempts this season. Both of the clashes between these sides in the 2019/20 season have been in Townsville with the Lightning easily taking the wins both times thanks to margins of 18 and 26 points respectively. Brianna Turner (16.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks) has been a ray of consistency this season, combining well with the all-round efforts of Stephanie Talbot (14.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks per game). Nicole Seekamp has been steadily building in the guard position, while the inclusion of Kathryn Westbeld in replacing Crystal Langhorne as a forward has been a positive one. For the Fire, Abby Bishop has missed the last few games but it has not hurt the Fire who have recorded back-to-back wins and jumped off the bottom of the table. Tess Madgen (12.3 points, 5.4 rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (14.1 points, 6.2 rebounds) have been quite handy for the team over the course of the season.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES vs. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Saturday, January 18, 5pm
Brydens Stadium

In what will be a quick turnaround for the Boomers, Melbourne heads from the nation’s capital to Sydney for a match against Sydney Uni Flames. A couple of wins could see them draw level with Southside Flyers, but a couple of  losses all but rules them out of a run for top spot. Not only could that be the case, but both third placed Adelaide and fourth placed UC would be on the Boomers case heading into the final two rounds of the season. Sydney Uni have won three of eight at home, while the Boomers are confident on the road and will start favourites despite the short turnaround. Player management will be crucial for the visiting side over the weekend as the Boomers have one eye on the finals series. In the two matches this year, Melbourne has brought home the chocolates on both occasions, winning by 13 points in Melbourne before toppling Sydney Uni by 23 points on the road. For the Flames to win they will need to be at their best, led by Alice Kunek (18.9 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and Jessica Kuster (12.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks). Lauren Scherf had a standout game last season and is averaging eight points and eight rebounds per game, and will need another huge one to topple the likes of George and Magbegor. Restricting the Boomers’ bigs will be key to victory, though Sophie Cunningham (11.2 points, 3.8 rebounds) and Lindsay Allen (15.3 points, 4.9 assists) are a couple of Americans who continue to cause headaches for the opposition.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Saturday, January 18, 7pm
Bendigo Stadium

In the most anticipated one-sided game of the round, top takes on bottom when Southside Flyers travel up the highway to face Bendigo Spirit. The Flyers have had a superb first season in the WNBL after the rebrand from Dandenong Rangers, sitting two games clear with 14 wins from 17 games, while Bendigo has struggled at times with just four wins from 13 games. The one positive heading into this match is the fact that all four of Bendigo’s wins have come at home, though Southside are 8-1 on the road. In their two previous encounters this season – both at home for Southside, the Flyers have won by eight and 13 points. Bendigo’s Carley Ernst is the key rebounder in the side, picking up 6.7 boards a game to accompany her 11.8 points. Kelly Wilson (8.9 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds) and Tessa Lavey (8.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists) are others who have had strong seasons despite the unfavourable results for the Spirit. The Flyers have had no shortage of contributors, and Mercedes Russell has set the tone as the premier center in the competition, averaging a double-double of 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Rebecca Cole (16.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.7 rebounds) and Leilani Mitchell (15.9 rebounds, 3.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists) are others have worked hard, playing as important guards in the ladder-leading side.

PERTH LYNX vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Sunday, January 19, 2pm
Bendat Basketball Centre

In one of two Sunday games, Perth Lynx play their first game of the round against a Townsville Fire side travelling across the border after their clash against the Lightning on Friday night. The Lynx would need incredibly favourable results to have any chance of making finals, sitting four games outside of the top four with just two rounds remaining. Realistically it is beyond last year’s finalists, though ensuring they do not finish in the bottom two would also be a huge motivation to win this match. The Lynx are 4-5 at home, while the Fire are only 2-7 on the road so expect the Lynx to be favourites without being a sure thing – especially considering Townsville toppled them back on November 2 in Western Australia by five points before Perth sought revenge with a five-point win of their own up in North Queensland. Perth has a number of players who have produced solid performances throughout the year, with an even team performance rather than standout individuals. Katie-Rae Ebzery (15.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals) has led the way from the likes of Alison Schwagmeyer (15.4 points, 5.8 rebounds) and Lauren Mansfield (9.7 points, 4.6 assists). While the Australian cohort of the Fire have been up and about, the international imports in Bridget Carleton (11.6 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Belgian Julie Vanloo (8.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists) have also contributed this year.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS vs. UC CAPITALS
Sunday, January 19, 5pm
Dandenong Stadium

The match of the round could well be the final game of the weekend. The top-of-the-table Southside Flyers make the trip up to Canberra following a night clash with Bendigo Spirit the day before, to take on the UC Capitals in a ladder-defining clash. The Flyers can lock up top spot with a big weekend, while a couple of losses could see the Boomers pounce on top spot. Arguably the Capitals have even more to lose if they go down in their clashes against the top two sides because it would rule them out of a top two spot and a double home final. These sides have played twice this season with the Capitals winning on the road to hand Southside its first loss back in early November, before the Flyers knocked off the Capitals in their only loss at home. While Southside seldom lose at home, the Capitals have shown the formula to do it, and it could be a thrilling contest. The forwards have been good at providing some strong rebounding and point-scoring abilities with the likes of Jenna O’Hea (14.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals) and Sara Blicavs (13.6 points, 6.8 rebounds) leading the way for the Flyers. The Capitals have an equal amount of enviable depth with other starters Kia Nurse (19.9 points, 3.8 rebounds), Olivia Epoupa (7.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists) and Maddison Rocci (7.6 points, 2.5 assists) all crucial in combining for a successful team this season.

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 8 – Ladder defining clashes to impact WNBL

ROUND 8 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) will be yet another big one with Southside Flyers looking to continue their hot form and keep their margin out in front with the Melbourne Boomers hot on their tail in terms of ladder position. Meanwhile up the other end Townsville Fire will be hoping to reverse their recent form and get a win on the board.

Bendigo Spirit vs University of Canberra Capitals

After a close Friday night loss for the Bendigo Spirit, now pushing their losing streak to five, Kelly Wilson and the Spirits are hoping to turn things around against the firing Canberra Capitals who are coming off an impressive four game win streak. But this game might not be as won and done as the WNBL ladder might suggest with the Capitals well aware that the Bendigo Spirit give their all and are no easy task to take down. This will be a memorable game for the Capitals as they get to go up against their championship point guard from last season, Wilson. Former school teacher and WNBL legend played for the Canberra Capitals for a historic six seasons and will be familiar with the Capitals playbook and style leading to exciting matchup. 

The Spirit will be looking to the likes of Wilson along with Marte Grays to lead the way in attack and hit the scoreboard while Abigail Wehrung can also have an impact when on court thanks to her accuracy from the three-point range. But the Capitals are just as littered with key players across the court in the likes of Kia Nurse who has had no issue finding the net and is their leading points scorer. Kelsey Griffin and Keely Froling are also instrumental across the court able to get back defensively and attack the scoreboard with their exciting style of play.

Adelaide Lighting vs Perth Lynx

Both teams are coming off a loss to the Southside flyers, meaning the clash between Adelaide Lighting and Perth Lynx will be an incredibly competitive match up on Friday night. Both teams have lost three of the last five matches, and are sitting next to each other on the ladder in third and fourth spot respectively. They have most productive scorers in the entire league in Crystal Langhorne (Adelaide Lighting) and Alison Schwagmeyer (Perth Lynx), making for a must watch game. While the Lynx were to say at the least embarrassed by the Flyers, as opposed to the close ending between the Lighting and Flyers, the Lynx were coming off two games the previous round and will definitely be well rested for this cut throat game. 

Everyone will be watching the matchup at the forward position between Schwagmeyer and Kathyrn Westbeld who only recently joined Adelaide. It will be interesting to watch if Westbeld can clamp Belger and hold her to single digits like she has done to many other WNBL superstars. However the Perth Lynx are more than competent in the defensive end, holding the top two players in blocks per game in Imani McGee-Stafford (2.3 BPG) and Maddison Allen (2.2 BPG). These twin towers will make it difficult for Langhorne to get to the basket, but may struggle to stop her as she is an elite three-point shooter who is yet to miss a single three this season. Additionally, Stephanie Talbot could have another great game as she is coming off a 25 points, two assists, eight rebound night. 

Southside Flyers vs Melbourne Boomers

Although it is still early in the season, the urgency and importance of getting a ‘W’ after this clash is fully understood by both teams because this just might be a preview of the grand final. Southside Flyers and Melbourne Boomers, both sit first and second on the ladder and the rivalry will once again be ignited with no fan certain of the outcome given the closeness and similarity of both sides. These two juggernauts have met before, in Round 4 in Dandenong with Southside coming out on top by just seven points. To make that more impressive, they did this coming off a back to back round.

However while Southside have five players averaging over 13 points a game, they still lack depth, something Guy Mollow, coach of the Melbourne Boomers, can exploit. The last time these two teams battled, the Flyers only had six players to put points on the board. While this is definitely not worth panicking over, as they do hover at the top of the WNBL ladder with only one loss, come finals, what can be seen as trivial factors can be the exact one percenters that cost them the win or loss. Being a two time WNBL coach of the year, it will be interesting seeing what adjustments Mollow makes to exhaust the Flyers main players, forcing them to rely more heavily on their less offensively gifted bench. Mercedes Russell is a scoring machine for the Flyers along with Rebecca Cole and Leilani Mitchell who are both known for their prolific shooting. But the Boomers are not to be out done with the likes of Cayla George and Lindsay Allen forming a damaging duo. 

Sydney Uni Flames vs Adelaide Lighting

Coming off their second game of Round 8, the Adelaide Lighting are set to host the Sydney Uni Flames in what will be an exciting contest. With just one spot between the two with the Lighting at the fourth seed and the Flames at the sixth, and now halfway through the WNBL season, every game matters in terms of finals and this is no different. Both teams have been on rocky roads recently, winning two of their last five match ups and are hoping to turn things around against similarly talented competition. Having already played in the very first match to commence the 2020 WNBL season, obviously the two teams are now much different having improved in different ways. But the main takeaway from that game was clearly Lauren Schref pulling down a whopping 17 rebounds along with Colleen Planeta dropping 30 points, both for the Uni Flames, yet their commendable efforts still did not result in the win. 

However this game is too far back to be used as data to predict a winner as the Uni Flames are not reliant on these two players dropping figures like that to win (although it does not hurt). Instead the Flames are reliant on being a high volume, high percentage shooting team. Similarly, the Adelaide Lighting are counting on shooting a lot of two point shots, close to the paint. This is mostly due to Langhorne leading the league in rebounds and second in points with dynamic duo partner Nicole Seekamp dishing the rock and leading the league in assists. 

Townsville Fire v. Bendigo Spirit

In a bottom of the ladder clash the Townsville Fire will be hoping to improve their season and get another win on the board while in their second game of the round, the Spirit will be aiming to make it two from two and put their opponents away early. Both sides have been relatively inconsistent but have shown that they can match it with the best pushing sides to their limit making for an enthralling match-up. Both sides are relatively even across the court but given it is the second game of the round for Bendigo, Townsville should try and capitalise on their fatigue and pile the pressure on.

The Fire will be looking to the likes of Abby Bishop to lead the way thanks to her ability to find the basket with ease and cause havoc from anywhere across the court. Tess Madgen is also another crucial member for Townsville able to hit the scoreboard as well as dish off crafty assists thanks to her vision and general basketball nous. Darcee Garbin is another one that can hit the scoreboard while also being able to do the defensive things well in particular her rebounding ability. For the Spirit their second tier players will have to lift their game to help out the likes of Wilson and Carley Ernst.

Melbourne Boomers v. Perth Lynx

This game will bring plenty of excitement with the second placed Boomers playing host to the fifth placed Perth Lynx who will be hopping to leapfrog up the ladder and stay in contention for a top four spot. The Boomers have only lost two games for the season compared to Lynx who have dropped six showcasing Melbourne’s ability to prevail in close contests. Both teams will be faced with their second game of the round making it imperative for each side to make the most of their chances when pushing forward.

The Boomers have a plethora of players that can stand up under pressure when the heat is on, especially scoring machine Allen, but youngster Ezi Magbegor is an exciting prospect. Magbegor oozes class thanks to her point scoring ability and strength defensively to pick up the rebound. Monique Conti is another one that is renowned for her ability to pop and have an impact while Madeleine Garrick is accurate from three-point region. Perth’s Schwagmeyer is their most influential player often touted as the barometer and will have to have a big one if her side is to get over the line against the second placed Boomers. Katie Ebzery is a prolific points scorer working in tandem with Schwagmeyer while Ariel Atkins is handy off the bench.

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 7 – Ladder leaders to do the double

BOTH the Sydney Uni Flames and Southside Flyers are set to play two games in Round 7 with the Flyers hoping to maintain prime position on top of the ladder.

BENDIGO SPIRIT v. SyYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Friday, November 29
7:05pm

Bendigo Spirit will be hoping to end their three-game losing streak and get back on the winners list against the Sydney Uni Flames who have also failed to rack up a win in their last two outings, making for an intriguing contest. In fact, the Spirit have not won a game since the start of November and will want stay in touch with the fifth placed Perth Lynx. On the other hand, it is the first of two games for the Flames this round and they will be wanting to get off to a hot start to hopefully leapfrog their opposition up the ladder. Both teams are relatively evenly matched with a mere five points separating their overall points scored tally highlighting just how competitive this game could be.

Alice Kunek has been a key contributor for the Flames averaging 16.9 points per game along with 4.1 rebounds showcasing her impact across the court. Paired with the likes of Colleen Planeta (15 points and 7.4 rebounds) Jessica Kuster (10.8 points, 6.3 rebounds) the Flames have a wealth of stars to choose from to help steer the ship against the higher place Spirit. But the Spirit have some players that can take the game by the scruff of the neck and lead them to victory with Keely Wilson a class act averaging 10.3 points per game and 6.8 assists. Abigail Wehrung also boasts a healthy percentage from three point range at 45.2 percent and can hit the scoreboard averaging 9.3 points. Tessa Lavey and Shyla Heal can also make a difference for the Spirit.

PERTH LYNX v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Friday, November 29
6:35pm

The Perth Lynx play host to the Southside Flyers in a clash of fifth against first. The Lynx will be hoping to cause a big upset and knock the Southside Flyers off their perch to get them back on level pegging with Adelaide Lightning giving they do not win their match. In the past five games the Flyers have only dropped one match highlighting their skill and teamwork to play both a defensive and attacking game style. Meanwhile Lynx will be aiming to recapture their form from a couple of weeks ago to have a real impact.

There is no denying that Alison Schwagmeyer is a real barometer for the Perth side given her impressive talent under the rim and explosiveness. If she is let off the chains early it will go a long way in helping set her side up for victory with the guard averaging 18.9 points per game along with 7.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists. The Flyers have a plethora of options across the court with Sara Blicavs, Leilani Mitchell, Jenna O’Hea, Mercedes Russell and Rebecca Cole all combining to become a formidable force. Russell has taken the competition by storm with her attacking mentality and drive to the basket averaging a double-double thanks to her 15.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. With so many key players it will be hard to maintain all of them and stop them from having an impact.

UC CAPITALS v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Saturday, November 30
5:05pm

It is a tale of two halves with the Capitals taking on the last placed Townsville Fire who have only managed the one win so far this season. The Fire have been competitive in games but have struggled to maintain any form of consistency or intensity for a full four quarters making it hard for them to win a game. The Capitals have won four games straight and will be keen to keep that streak running but when these two sides met back in Round 2 the Capitals only narrowly scraped through by two points proving that Townsville have what it takes to match it with the best of them, but a lot has changed since then.

Kia Nurse is instrumental for the University of Canberra (UC) credit to her points scoring ability really controlling the airways for her side with an average of 20 points. Partner in crime Kelsey Griffin is another key to the Capitals success with a double-double of 17.1 points and 11.8 rebounds per game while Keely Froling is not too far behind with 15.1 points and 6.8 rebounds. Marianna Tolo should not be underestimated and can turn the heat on at the drop of a hat. Although Townsville do not have the same firepower as their opponents Abby Bishop is no slouch with an impressive average of 20.2 points and 8.5 rebounds, Tess Madgen can also find the net.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS v. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Saturday, November 30
7:35pm

The second placed Melbourne Boomers can turn on the afterburners when need be and will be hoping to inflict some scoreboard pain on the Sydney Uni Flames to cement their spot on the ladder. It will be the Flames second game for the round and their opposition does not get any easier coming up against a well-rested and raring to go Melbourne Boomers side who will be hoping to keep the scoreboard ticking over and notch up their third consecutive win.

The Boomers can score quickly and have a wealth of players to look to when the going gets tough thanks to their touch of class, experience and basketball nous across the court with the first in line Lindsay Allen. Allen is an excitement machine not afraid to back herself from range or in close shown with her average of 18.4 points per game. Cayla George can also set the court on fire with both her defensive and offensive pressure (14.9 points, 9.3 rebounds) while Ezi Magbegor offers another scoring option. For the Flames the usual suspects in Planeta and Kunek will have to take charge while Tahlia Tupaea can provide a point of difference.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, December 1
5:05pm

In their second game of the round the Flyers will be hoping to build on their momentum and keep their winning streak alive against the fourth placed Lightning. The Lightning have been relatively inconsistent throughout the 2019/20 season winning four games and losing three but will be hoping to consolidate on their top four position. Expect Lightning to be fresh and buzzing with energy while the Flyers could be sore and fatigued heading into the match-up.

There is no denying that the Flyers are pretty well stacked when it comes to talent meaning the Lightning will have their hands full but Adelaide are not without their own game-changers. American Crystal Langhorne can cause havoc as shown averaging 20 points and 13 rebounds and will have to get on the move if she is to spur her side onto victory. Brianna Turner, Stephanie Talbot and Nicole Seekamp are also filled with skill and scoring prowess making their performance against the Flyers integral. Cole and Mitchell are both able to hit the scoreboard and can be real playmakers with their creative assists.

2019/20 WNBL review/preview: Round 5 – Midway point of round

WITH the split round taking place in Round 5 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL), we recap the two games that took place overnight, while previewing the remaining three matches this weekend.

Sydney Uni Flames (82) defeated Townsville Fire (73)

Sydney Uni Flames have leapt past two sides on their way to sixth following an all-important home win against Townsville Fire last night. The Fire were coming off a terrific road win against Perth Lynx, but could not follow on from a strong second term to be overrun by the Flames and sent to the bottom of the table. Sydney Uni gained the advantage early, piling on 28 points to 21, before the Flames’ worst quarter of the season saw them struggle with just nine points to Townsville’s 21, heading into half-time with a five-point deficit. They picked up in the second half however, cutting the deficit to one by the final break, before a barnstorming 28-18 last quarter saw them extinguish the Fire, 82-73. Alice Kunek was the standout with 22 points, four rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal for the Flames, while Jessica Kuster (17 points, six rebounds) and Alex Wilson (16 points, three rebounds scored highly. Tahlia Tupaea (12 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals) and Colleen Planeta (11 points, six rebounds) rounded out a strong starting five effort with their work off the boards. For the Fire, Darcee Garbin was a standout with 19 points, seven rebounds and two assists, while Abby Bishop continued her good form of late with 14 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Tess Madgen (12 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals) was impressive as well in defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Alice Kunek (SU), 2 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU), 1 – Abby Bishop (TF)

Southside Flyers (72) defeated UC Capitals (91)

The UC Capitals emerged from their Round 3 slumber to make it two massive wins in a row, knocking off the previously undefeated Southside Flyers on the road. In the first of two games in Victoria, the reigning premiers put the challenge to the ladder leaders with a dominant first half, posting 27-19 in the opening term, then 29-14 in the second quarter to lead by 22 points heading into the main break. It was hard to fathom for the home crowd who were left a little stunned at Dandenong Stadium, as Southside managed to chew back three points in the third term, but could not make any inroads by the final buzzer to go down by 19 points, 72-91. The Capitals’ big guns were all firing once again as Kelsey Griffin lead the way with 14 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block, while Keely Froling‘s work off the bench was superb, notching up a double-double as well, posting 20 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and one block. Kia Nurse lead the scoring with 21 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Marianna Tolo (16 points, seven rebounds) and Olivia Epoupa (15 points, four rebounds, seven assists and three steals) were also prominent. For the Flyers, Leilani Mitchell stood up against her former side, sinking 23 points and collecting five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block for the losers. Mercedes Russell had the 15 points and five rebounds but was quiet by her standards, while Sara Blicavs (11 points, six rebounds) was busy off the boards but had seven turnovers on the night. It was an evening to forget for the Flyers who will be keen to put that one behind them as they have a 16-day break until their November 23 clash with cellar dwellers, Townsville.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Keely Froling (UC), 1 – Olivia Epoupa (UC)

Looking ahead to the rest of the round, three games take place tomorrow night across three different states, with Thursday night’s winners hoping to make it a double-win weekend in Round 5.

PERTH LYNX vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Saturday, November 9, 7.00pm
Bendat Basketball Centre

Fresh off a victory over fellow bottom three side Townsville, Sydney Uni could really make inroads this weekend if they can topple the out-of-sorts Perth Lynx. While the Lynx have the home court advantage, they have dropped their past four games, two of which were at home with the most disappointing to the previously winless Townsville in Round 4. The last time these two sides met was in Round 1, with Perth claiming what would become its only victory of the season thus far, defeating Sydney Uni, 79-62. Last season the Lynx won all three clashes, including a massive 46-point belting in November. It will be the third straight time these sides have met at Bendat Basketball Centre, and Perth is desperate for a win to get back on track. Alison Schwagmeyer has been a shining light this season, posting up 19.4 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, while Katie-Rae Ebzery (13.6 points, 4.2 rebounds) and Nadeen Payne (13.4 points, 4.4 rebounds) has been the other consistent player off the boards. Imani McGee-Stafford has used her 201cm frame to have an impact in three games having had to recover from an ankle injury. She has averaged 14.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.3 blocks thus far this season, and if back out on court could make it a trio of Americans, with Schwagmeyer and last week’s debutant, Ariel Atkins (19 points, seven rebounds and four assists). Meanwhile the Flames have had an up-and-down start to the season, but their American imports have also impressed, with Planeta (13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks) and Kuster (11.2 points, 6.2 rebounds) solid, while Australian Kunek has been Sydney Uni’s best with 18.5 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists across all six starts. The Flames are too far behind on points difference to overtake Adelaide, but should the Flames win and Bendigo Spirit lose, they would move to fifth on the table.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING vs. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Saturday, November 9, 7.00pm
Titanium Security Arena

In a massive mid-table clash, Adelaide Lightning will be keen to steal back third spot from UC Capitals with a win. In what will be just the Lightning’s second home game – they won their other one against the Flames in Round 1 – they will be hoping to provide plenty of highlights to the crowd. Last time these sides met was last week when Bendigo upset Adelaide by 13 points. Last season, the Lightning won its clash at home and one on the road, while Bendigo won the middle game of the trio. With an identical points difference to the reigning premiers but a win behind, the Lightning must salute here to be any chance of snatching third spot, while Bendigo can grab Adelaide’s fourth spot if the Spirit get up by at least 27 points. Crystal Langhorne injured herself after a massive opening round debut for the Lightning where she put up 20 points and 13 rebounds, with fellow American import, Brianna Turner having to shoulder the load up forward with 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds across the five games. Lauren Nicholson (17.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists) and Stephanie Talbot (13.6 points, 9.6 rebounds) have been big off the boards, while Nicole Seekamp (12.6 points, 8.4 assists and 3.2 rebounds) has been the playmaker. For the Spirit, Rebecca Tobin has averaged 14 points, nine rebounds and two steals from just two matches, while Marte Grays has put up 11.2 points and 5.8 rebounds thus far this season. Without a genuine standout and the points shared across the board, others who have impressed include Kelly Wilson (10.5 points, 7.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds), Tessa Lavey (10.0 points, 4.5 assists and 3.7 rebounds) and Carley Ernst (9.7 points, 8.3 rebounds) who have become integral members of the starting five.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS vs. UC CAPITALS
Saturday, November 9, 7.00pm
State Basketball Centre

The final game of the round is just as crucial as the other two, with second spot up for grabs between Melbourne Boomers and UC Capitals. The Capitals are now on a two-game winning streak after a disappointing Round 3 that included losses to the Boomers and Flames. It was the manner in which the Capitals’ lost to the Boomers that would burn deeply in the reigning premiers’ minds, losing 107-72 in Geelong. Now at the State Basketball Centre, the Capitals will be keen to have a change of fortunes, and while that result has put a wide gap between the two teams, a Capitals’ win would still see them move past the Boomers having already collected the scalp of the Flyers last night and will look to knock off both top two sides in one weekend. The Capitals’ win over the Flyers was their first on the road for the season having won every game at home, while Melbourne’s loss to Southside last round was the Boomers’ first home loss of the year. Griffin has backed up her MVP winning ways with another double-double season to-date with 16.7 points, 11.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.2 steals per game. She has plenty of support across the court though, with Nurse (20.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists) doing her thing up the scoring end, while Froling (17.8 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 blocks) could make a case as one of the most improved this season. The inclusion of Frenchwoman, Epoupa has also been massive, averaging a balanced 9.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 6.2 assists and a remarkable 4.0 steals per game. While they have been impressive, the Boomers have also had an even contribution of stars with Cayla George leading the way thanks to a double-double effort of 17.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.4 blocks. American duo, Lindsay Allen (18.4 points, 6.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds) and Sophie Cunningham (10.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.2 assists) have also contributed on the scoring front. UC’s form heading into the game is hard to ignore, but Melbourne had no trouble against the Capitals in Round 3 and could well hand out another punishment here.

WNBL 2019/2020 preview: Round 3 – Boomers and Capitals face-off in undefeated battle

THREE teams remain undefeated heading into Round 3 of the Women’s NBL and will be looking to extend their lead at the top of the table. On the other end of the scale both Townsville Fire and Sydney Uni Flames have failed to register a win so far and will hoping to edge their way off the bottom of the ladder.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS v. UC CAPITALS
Friday, October 25
7:30pm

Both sides will be riding high heading into the match-up with an unblemished record. The reigning premiers have three wins on the trot while the Boomers have notched up two wins from their two games making for a high intensity battle on Friday night. The Capitals welcomed back co-captain Mariana Tolo last week and with another game under her belt will be hoping to have an even bigger impact to keep her sides undefeated start to the season rolling. Other key players such as Kia Nurse, Kelsey Griffin and Keely Froling will be hoping to flex their muscles given their scoring prowess for the Capitals. If they can unleash early it will go a long way in setting up another possible win. But the Boomers will be wanting to maintain top spot on the ladder with Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor influential across the boards. George is their leading points scorer with 36 for the season so far while Lindsay Allen is no stranger to the scoreboard either amassing 12 points last week in the win.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Saturday, October 26
5:00pm

The Southside Flyers are the other side in the competition to have not dropped a game so far this season and will be wanting to keep that momentum going. Bendigo secured their first win of the season last week against the Perth Lynx and will be seeking to keep that streak running. The Flyers have a host of key players that could cause havoc for the Spirit with Jenna O’Hea the most impactful of the lot already boasting a tally of 60 points for the season. Leilani Mitchell has proved to be a handy inclusion in the side making her presence felt both on the on scoreboard and off it racking up 10 assists, six rebounds and 14 points last week. Mercedes Russell has not skipped a beat so far this season while the likes of Sara Blicavs and Louella Tomlinson are pivotal to the Flyers line-up. The Spirit have their fair share of game changers such as Marte Grays, Carley Ernst and Tessa Lavey but must get on top early if they are any chance to stop the Flyers.

PERTH LYNX v. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Saturday, October 26
6:30pm

Perth and Adelaide have both had a relatively inconsistent start to the season and will be aiming to get some structure and momentum into their gameplay this round. Perth are coming off a loss while Adelaide prevailed by 20 points last match and will be drawing on that confidence heading into the clash. The Lightning currently sit in fourth spot while Lynx are hot on their tail in fifth making for exciting battle. The likes of Lauren Nicholson and Stephanie Talbot lead the way for the Lightning with their on-court presence and ability to go to post. Crystal Langhorne has proved to be a deadeye with ball in hand making no mistake sitting at 80 per cent from field goals and 100 per cent from three-point range. Lynx are led by scoring machine Alison Schwagmeyer with the ball all but guaranteed to go through the hoop when she has ball in hand amassing a whopping 65 points so far this season. Imani McGee-Stafford and Nadeen Payne have proved to be a dynamic duo with the two not afraid to back themselves and hit the scoreboard.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES v. UC CAPITALS
Sunday, October 27
2:00pm

In their second game for the round, the UC Capitals will need to make the most of their opportunities despite playing the bottom of the ladder Sydney Uni Flames. With a short turn around expect the Capitals to hustle hard and look to their big game players to stand up under the pressure. Meanwhile the Flames will be hoping to capitalise on their oppositions weakness and exploit them with speed and fast breaks to catch them off guard. French import and Capitals star, Olivia Epoupa had a stand out game last week and will be looking to replicate her efforts again this week with seven steals, eight rebounds, four assists and 13 points. Teammates, Froling, Griffin, Nurse and Tolo will also be hoping to keep their winning ways afloat. Flames duo Colleen Planeta and Alice Kunek have had a profound impact for their side so far this season given their points scoring ability and general game sense with 55 and 48 respectively for the year. Jessica Kuster is another handy player notching up a double-double last round despite the loss with 10 rebounds and 16 points. Tahlia Tupaea cannot be underestimated with her ability to hit the scoreboard and cleverly crafted passes.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Sunday, October 27
4:00pm

First meet seventh in what is shaping up to be an interesting contest between the Boomers and Townsville Fire. The Boomers will be heading into their second game of the round and while they currently sit undefeated have only played Bendigo Spirit before this round. This could be the time for the Fire to strike having pushed sides but fading away in previous encounters. Townsville have a number of important players that can wreak havoc if let off the hook early with Darcee Garbin, Abby Bishop and Tess Madgen able to use their experience to hurt the Boomers. Youngster Bridget Carleton will be hoping to continue her hot start to the season while Christina Boag is yet to miss a shot sitting at 100 per cent from field goals. Melbourne will be wanting to maintain their composure and not get frazzled by the Fire pressure. Expect Sophie Cunningham to play a major role for the Boomers having already locked away 29 points while Monique Conti has shown she can have an impact when brought on.

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 1

UNIVERSITY of Canberra (UC) Capitals have dominated the Draft Central Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Team of the Week, with three players named in the side after an impressive Round 1 victory. Melbourne Boomers had two players after their Round 1 win, while fellow winners, Southside Flyers (1-0), Perth Lynx (1-0) and Adelaide Lightning (1-1) each had a player in the team. The big surprise was Sydney Uni Flames having two players despite back-to-back losses, but a couple of standouts deservingly made their way into the 10-player squad with just Bendigo Spirit and Townsville Fire not having a player in the side.

The Capitals’ dominant third quarter which spurred them onto victory was lead by starters, Kelsey Griffin (22 points, 20 rebounds, three blocks and three assists), Kia Nurse (28 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block) and Keely Froling (22 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal and two blocks). A crucial player missing from the opposition in that game was Lightning talent, Crystal Langhorne who sank 20 points and 13 rebounds in the Lightning’s earlier win over Sydney Uni.

Speaking of Sydney Uni, it was hard to overlook Colleen Planeta who had a couple of superb performances, the most consistent player over two games with 20.5 points and 10 rebounds, while Lauren Scherf was strong in the center position with 10.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and two assists. In the loss to Perth, it was Alison Schwagmeyer who did plenty of the damage for the Lynx, named in the Team of the Week after 21 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Also in the Team of the Week was Melbourne Boomers’ duo, Ezi Magbegor and Lindsay Allen. Magbegor made it into the starting centre position after 19 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks, while Allen slotted into a bench guard position thanks to 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Rounding out the 10-player squad was Leilani Mitchell who put up 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals on debut for the Flyers.

Other players whose names were thrown into the conversation included Adelaide’s Lauren Nicholson and Chelsea Brook, Bendigo’s Marte Grays, Townsville’s Tess Madgen, Melbourne’s Madeleine Garrick and Cayla George, Sydney Uni’s Alice Kunek, Southside’s Jenna O’Hea and Perth’s Imani McGee-Stafford.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Alison Schwagmeyer (PL) – 21 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 57.1 FG%
G: Kia Nurse (UC) – 28 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 43.5 FG%
C: Ezi Magbegor (MB) – 19 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 2 blocks, 44.4 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) 22 points, 20 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 steals, 3 blocks, 52.9 FG%
F: Colleen Planeta (SU) – 20.5 points, 10.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 1.0 blocks 62.5 FG%

BENCH:

G: Leilani Mitchell (SF) – 21 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 60.0 FG%
G: Lindsay Allen (MB) 19 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 50.0 FG%
C: Lauren Scherf (SU) – 10.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 2.0 assist, 1.5 steals, 1.0 blocks 34.6 FG%
F: Crystal Langhorne (AD) – 20 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 80.0 FG%
F: Keely Froling (UC) 22 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 38.9 FG%

WNBL Round 1 review: Perth goes top as UC capitalise in third term

PERTH Lynx have taken the honours in Round 1 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season, defeating the Adelaide Lightning who won their opening game, to move to top spot on the table. It was a good weekend for Melbourne Boomers, Southside Flyers and UC Capitals who all won their opening round games. On the other end of the scale, Sydney Uni Flames went down in both matches, while Bendigo Spirit and Townsville Fire also lost their opening games. We also began our DC Medal count with a 3-2-1 vote for our top players in each game with the winner to be announced at the end of the season.

Adelaide Lightning (89) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (79)

Tipping off the start of the WNBL season, Adelaide struck early against last year’s wooden spooners, to pile on 29 points to 19 in the opening term. The Lightning were strong from the get-go, and extended their lead to 12 by the main break and 16 by the last change. To the Flames’ credit, they never gave in and won the final term with a 19-13 term to cut the final deficit to 10. Despite the best efforts of Colleen Planeta (30 points at 71.4 per cent from the field), 11 rebounds and a block, the Flames could could not contain the likes of Crystal Langhorne (20 points, 13 rebounds) and Chelsea Brook (19 points, four rebounds) in a strong team effort. Stephanie Talbot (12 points, five assists) and Nicole Seekamp (11 points, eight assists and two steaks) were also prominent on the scoring front, with the scary factor being that star Lauren Nicholson had a quiet game by her lofty standards with just seven points, as well as two assists. For the Flames, aside from Planeta’s massive effort, Lauren Scherf had a huge game on debut with 17 rebounds and two steals to accompany her 10 points, while Alice Kunek (16 points, six assists, and three rebounds) was also strong.

DC Medal: 3 – Colleen Planeta (SU), 2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), 1 – Chelsea Brook (AD).

Bendigo Spirit (72) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (87)

Dominant first and third terms by Melbourne Boomers gave the city side an early win on the board against their country counterparts, Bendigo Spirit. The Boomers raced out to an eight-point lead at quarter time, and despite the home side’s best efforts, maintained the advantage at the main break. The visiting team put the foot down at Bendigo Stadium in the third term, piling on 27 points to 17 to race out to an 18-point lead with a quarter to play. Bendigo managed to cut the deficit by three, but could not reduce it to less than the 15-point final margin. Lindsay Allen top scored for the Boomers, with all five starters contributing double-figure points. Allen (19 points, six rebounds and seven assists) led the way with Madeleine Garrick (15 points, five rebounds, three assists), Ezi Magbegor (13 points, seven rebounds and two assist), Cayla George (12 points, nine rebounds, two assists and two blocs) and Sophie Cunningham (11 points, four assists and two rebounds) all sharing the baskets. For the Spirit, three players finished with 14 points apiece, with Marte Grays (14 points, nine rebounds and three assists) the only starter to reach double figures, while Shya Heal (14 points, two assists) and Demi Skinner (14 points, four rebounds) were prominent off the bench. Kelly Wilson (nine points, five rebounds and eight assists) covered a fair portion of the court, while Carley Ernst (six points, seven rebounds and four assists) also had a playmaking role.

DC Medal: 3 – Lindsay Allen (MB), 2 – Cayla George (MB), 1 – Madeleine Garrick (MB)

Southside Flyers (81) defeated Townsville Fire (72)

The WNBL’s newest franchise started off its history with a win at Dandenong Stadium, getting up over Townsville Fire, 81-72. The Flyers flew out of the blocks to lead by eight points at quarter time, before the Fire narrowed the gap to six and four respectively over the next two breaks. With the momentum in the visiting side’s favour, the Flyers got back on top in the last term, adding 19 points to 14, to record a nine-point victory. Southside’s star-studded starting five all reached double figures, with Leilani Mitchell piling on 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals on debut, well aided by Jenna O’Hea contributing 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists. American import, Mercedes Russell had a prominent start to her WNBL career, adding 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks, while Sara Blicavs (13 points, three rebounds and two steals) and Rebecca Cole (11 points, five rebounds and six assists) were also damaging. For the Fire, Bridget Carleton shone on debut, racking up 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals, while Tess Madgen played every minute of the match on her way to 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Darcee Garbin was the other dominant scorer with 16 points and seven rebounds. The Flyers only got five points out of their bench, but with the likes of Louella Tomlinson and Aimie Clydesdale waiting in the wings, there is no shortage of talent ready to make an impact.

DC Medal: 3 – Leilani Mitchell (SS), 2 – Jenna O’Hea (SS), 1 – Bridget Carleton (TF)

Perth Lynx (79) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (62)

Perth kick-started its season in style with a comprehensive win over the Flames to hand Sydney Uni its second loss of the opening round. The Lynx won a shootout in the first term, sinking 32 points to 23, then won the next term in an arm-wrestle 16-9, and had the game all but in the bag by the final break with a 64-42 lead. The Flames once again fought back in the final term to cut the deficit, but could only make inroads by five points, to end up going down by 17. Alison Schwagmeyer was the standout player on the court with a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds, while also picking up two assists and two steals. Nadeen Payne (13 points, four rebounds), Imani McGee-Stafford (12 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks) and Katie-Rae Ebzery (10 points, seven assists and four rebounds) were impressive starters, while Nes’eya Williams stepped up off the bench with 10 points and four rebounds. For the Flames, Kunek topscored with 15 points to go with her three assists, while Planeta (11 points, nine rebounds and two assists) and Scherf (11 points, eight rebounds and three assists) also produced a block each. Jessica Kuster was the surprise packet with 10 points and eight rebounds in a promising performance. The win moved Perth to the top of the table with the greatest points difference of the Round 1 winners.

DC Medal: 3 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 2 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), 1 – Colleen Planeta (SU)

UC Capitals (90) defeated Adelaide Lightning (83)

Reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals showed that they can fight back from a deficit, producing the best individual quarter of the opening round with 33 points and a difference of 20 to their opposition in the third term. To that point, it was all the visitors who lead by 10 points at the main break, but that lead turned into a deficit, and despite the Lightning also winning the final term 15-12 – meaning they had won three of the four quarters – the Capitals secured the seven-point win. It was a triple threat from the winners, with Kia Nurse (28 points, seven rebounds) and Kelsey Griffin (22 points, 20 rebounds, three assists and three blocks) doing as many would expect, but Keely Froling showed she could add a massive element this season having played every game but never started last season, producing 22 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks in the big win. Olivia Epoupa (six points, seven rebounds and eight assists) was the key playmaker on the court and added serious talent to the Capitals’ outfit. For the Lightning, Nicholson clicked into gear for this game, piling on 32 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals to do everything she could to try and get her side over the line. While unsuccessful, she did have plenty of support with Seekamp (17 points, seven rebounds and eight assists) and Talbot (13 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals) also prominent in defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Kia Nurse (UC), Lauren Nicholson (AL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

4 – Colleen Planeta (AD)
3 – Lindsay Allen (MB), Leilani Mitchell (SS), Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Kelsey Griffin (UC)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Cayla George (MB), Jenna O’Hea (SS), Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Kia Nurse (UC)
1 – Chelsea Brook (AD), Madeleine Garrick (MB), Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL)