Tag: Kelly Wilson

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.

WNBL Round 6 review: Top three move two games clear

BACK-to-back wins over the weekend to Melbourne Boomers, and victories to Southside Flyers and University of Canberra (UC) Capitals meant the top three in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) moved two games clear of fourth. The other game saw Perth Lynx keep their finals hopes alive with an important win over Sydney Uni Flames.

Adelaide Lightning 57 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 71

Melbourne secured a vital road win against fourth placed Adelaide Lightning to gain a bit of separation inside the top three. The Boomers trailed by three points at the first break, but hit back with a 17-8 second term, and went on with it from there, restricting the Lightning to just 30 points in the last three quarters, while piling on 57 themselves to run away with a 71-57 victory. Lindsay Allen was the top scorer with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and one steal, while Ezi Magbegor picked up a double double in her best performance of the year with 13 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks. Cayla George (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks) was superb, while Penina Davidson had 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench. For the Lightning, Nicole Seekamp sank 15 points, two rebounds and three assists, while Brianna Turner (10 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks) and Chelsea Brook (10 points, five rebounds) were the other two players who reached double figure points. Stephanie Talbot tried hard with seven points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals, but ultimately the home side could not put enough points on the board.

DC Medal: 3 – Lindsay Allen (MB), 2 – Ezi Magbegor (MB), 1 – Cayla George (MB)

Sydney Uni Flames 82 defeated by Perth Lynx 91

Perth finally snapped its four-game losing streak with an important nine-point victory over Sydney Uni – the side it last beat all the way back in Round 1. The Lynx edged ahead in the second term after an even first quarter, but then added 23 points to 18 in the third to lead by 10 at the final break. The Flames hit back to cut the deficit back to nine, but it would not be enough in the end. Alison Schwagmeyer produced another stunning game, picking up a double double with 25 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and one steal to be best on court, while Katie-Rae Ebzery returned from Opals duties to post 20 points, three rebounds and three assists in the win. Ariel Atkins continued her good start to her WNBL career with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals off the bench. Maddison Allen was also strong with 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. For the Flames, Colleen Planeta was the best with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Alex Wilson shared the top scorer billing with 16 points, three rebounds and nine assists. Lauren Scherf (14 points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks) and Jessica Kuster (13 points, nine rebounds) were the other two key scorers for the home side.

DC Medal: 3 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 2 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 1 – Colleen Planeta (SU)

Townsville Fire 59 defeated by Southside Flyers 91

Southside Flyers bounced back from their first loss of the WNBL season with a big statement over cellar dwellers, Townsville Fire. Sitting at opposite ends of the ladder, the Flyers piled on 30 points to 19 in the opening term, then proceeded to win all four quarters in a one-sided, dominant display. Never letting up, it was clear to see that Southside is one of the title contenders, producing such an effort on the road. Jenna O’Hea (21 points, seven assists and two steals) and Rebecca Cole (20 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals) were the key scorers, while Mercedes Russell continued her dominant start to the season with an impressive 17 points, nine rebounds and two assists. It was hard to find the top player for the Flyers with Sara Blicavs also picking up a double double thanks to 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Leilani Mitchell had eight assists and three rebounds to go with her 13 points. Abby Bishop was the clear standout for the Fire with 20 points and eight rebounds, while Micaela Cocks (10 points, three rebounds and three assists) was the other player to reach double figures in what was a disappointing loss for the home side.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Sara Blicavs (SF), 1 – Jenna O’Hea (SF)

Bendigo Spirit 59 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 75

Rounding out a good weekend for the Boomers, Melbourne took home the points on the road against Bendigo Spirit in a 16-point win. The Spirit started strongly to lead by three points at the first break and half-time, before the Boomers took over to lead by the same margin with a quarter to play. They built on that momentum in the final term to post 24 points to 11 and run away with the contest in a margin that was not completely accurate of the game’s tightness. Allen was again the team’s top scorer with 17 points, four assists and two steals in the win, while Madeleine Garrick stepped up to contribute 12 points, six rebounds and two steals. Magbegor (10 points, seven rebounds and two steals) and George (10 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks) were also prominent across the board. For the Spirit, Abigail Wehrung was a lone hand in the scoring department with 13 points, as well as two rebounds and two assists, while Kelly Wilson picked up nine of her team’s 16 assists, though had seven of her side’s 27 turnovers. Rebecca Tobin was the dominant player off the boards with 15 rebounds to accompany her six points, four assists and two steals.

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

UC Capitals 84 defeated Perth Lynx 66

Reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals finished strongly at home to run over the top of Perth Lynx and maintain touch with Melbourne and Southside in the top three. The Lynx surprised the home crowd in the opening term to lead by a point at quarter time, before the Capitals piled on 23 points to 16 in the second term. Perth got back on top in the third to reclaim the lead by two points at the final break. Like any good side on the ropes, the Capitals found a way to breakthrough and eventually piled on the points in the final term, sinking 32 points to 12 to run away with an 18-point win in a game where – like the previous one – the final margin did not accurately reflect how close the game was. Kelsey Griffin was unbelievable with 19 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, while Marianna Tolo (12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three blocks) also picked up a double double, Kia Nurse played her best game for the season in terms of overall impact and not just points, picking up 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Maddison Rocci also impressed with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. Coming off the bench, young gun Gemma Potter scored nine points and had two assists. For the Lynx, Lauren Mansfield scored a game-high 23 points, as well as five rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Schwagmeyer added another 19 points and seven rebounds to her season totals. Nadeen Payne (10 points, 10 rebounds) picked up a double-double, while Atkins had six points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Kia Nurse (UC), 1 – Lauren Mansfield (PL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

16 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
15 – Cayla George (MB),
14 – Mercedes Russell (SF)
13 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
12 –
11 –
10 – Brianna Turner (AL), Alison Schwagmeyer (PL)
9 –
8 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)
7 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), Abby Bishop (TF), Colleen Planeta (AD), Jenna O’Hea (SF)
6 – Keely Froling (UC), Stephanie Talbot (AL), Kia Nurse (UC)
5 – Alice Kunek (SU), Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Olivia Epoupa (UC)
4 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Kelly Wilson (BS)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Rebecca Tobin (BS), Sara Blicavs (SF), Madeleine Garrick (MB),
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Rebecca Cole (SF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Ezi Magbegor (MB), Lauren Mansfield (PL)
1 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Ariel Atkins (PL)

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 6 – Top four clash to tip-off round

AFTER a weekend off with many players stepping up to Australian Opals’ duties, the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is back with Round 6 tipping off on Friday night. The Melbourne Boomers and Perth Lynx play two games across the weekend to try and break up the mid-table gap between fourth and fifth.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Friday, November 22, 7pm
Titanium Security Arena

In one of two games to open Round 6 of the WNBL, Adelaide Lightning hosts Melbourne Boomers for the first time in the 2019/20 season. The top four clash could have big ramifications for both the winner and loser, with the winner to take outright third and keep in touch with the top two, while the loser will slip at least a game behind third and possibly two games behind the top two, while remaining only a game ahead of the ensuring bottom four sides. The last time these sides played was in January this year which saw the Boomers get the points in Adelaide, the third time they had won during the season after narrow wins in Melbourne in the two previous encounters. The Lightning won their last contest and will head in with the form compared to the Boomers who after winning four consecutive games, have suffered back-to-back losses. The interesting fact within the game is Adelaide is yet to lose at home from two matches, while Melbourne is yet to suffer a defeat on the road from the same amount of games.

Brianna Turner has been a key player for the Lightning this season, averaging 17.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.2 steals, while working well in tandem with Lauren Nicholson (17.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.5 steals). Stephanie Talbot is also enjoying a purple patch of form, sinking 14.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals in season 2019/20. For the Boomers, Lindsay Allen has been the key player with 18.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game, while Cayla George is averaging a double double from her six matches, thanks to 16.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Madeleine Garrick is an underrated player on the Boomers side, comfortable across most areas with a 10.2-point, 3.0-rebound, 2.7-assist and 1.2-steal average.

Adelaide is in good form so will head in as favourites, but Melbourne are due to bounce back so it will be an incredibly tight contest.

SYDNEY UNI v. PERTH LYNX
Friday, November 22, 7pm
Brydens Stadium

It is still early days in the season, but both Sydney Uni and Perth would realise the importance of getting a ‘W’ in this clash. After making the finals last year, Perth sits fifth, two wins outside the top four and having only won two games from six starts. Both of those were at home which is all the more important for them to break their road trip record with a win here. For Sydney Uni, they just need a win, sitting with a far worse points difference than Perth (-69 to +11), and having lost an extra game with two wins from seven starts. Both their wins have come at home so that is a positive for the Flames, though the fact they lost to this Lynx outfit in the last start is less positive. A win would see the Flames propel themselves into fifth temporarily, and at least move within a game of fourth spot.

Alice Kunek (17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists) and Colleen Planeta (14.9 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks) have been the two staples in the Flames’ outfit week-in, week-out, while Tahlia Tupaea (10.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals) has also started in all seven games. Jessica Kuster is one who has stepped up throughout the season, with the 188cm forward sinking 10.4 points and 5.9 rebounds, as well as a block per game. For Perth, Alison Schwagmeyer has been enormous all season, pumping out 17.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, only bettered in that department by Imani McGee-Stafford (14.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks). Katie-Rae Ebzery has also been a phenomenal passer this year, averaging 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds to go with her 16.0 points and 1.5 steals.

Perth Lynx should breakthrough for their first on the road win, but the Flames could make a statement with a win here.

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Saturday, November 23, 6pm
Townsville Stadium

Sitting at polar ends of the WNBL ladder, the panic button would have been pressed for the Fire who have just one win from six attempts, while the Flyers are in the opposite position with just one loss from seven games. There will still be fire in the belly from the visiting side however, with the Flyers going down to UC Capitals by 19 points in Round 5 to reduce their stranglehold at the top of the table to just one game. The Flyers are unbeaten from two tries on the road, while the Fire are yet to win in front of their home fans. There is no better occasion to celebrate their first win in front of a passionate crowd than downing one of the title contenders. It will be far from easy though and the Flyers will be keen to atone for last round and hit the court with a bang. These sides last played back in Round 1, with Southside coming out nine-point winners at Dandenong.

Abby Bishop has been a real star for the Fire, posting up 20.2 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.2 steals per game, the clear standout for the side in an otherwise disappointing start to the year. The issue has been consistency, with Tess Madgen (12.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists), Darcee Garbin (12.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.7 steals) and Bridget Carleton (11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds) all contributing. The Flyers on the other hand have had the same five starters every week, and allowed all bar two players to take the court in each of the seven games. Mercedes Russell has been the recruit of the off-season, with the 198cm center posting 15.6 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, complimenting the likes of Leilani Mitchell (15.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.6 steals) and Rebecca Cole (14.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.6 steals) perfectly.

It is hard to look past the ladder leaders in this game with Southside predicted to add another win to the tally, but as the Fire showed in Round 1, they can be competitive in most games.

BENDIGO SPIRIT v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Sunday, November 24, 2pm
Bendigo Stadium

Bendigo Spirit return from a long break at home against Melbourne Boomers who are coming off their second game for the round. Returning from no doubt a thrilling clash in Adelaide, the Boomers will be pumped up for the clash, but might also be sore compared to the fresh Spirit. A strong start is crucial for the home side given they might have the legs to outrun them in the end, though the Boomers are third for a reason and will be difficult to topple. If the Boomers go down to Adelaide it will be three consecutive losses, while the Spirit also enter the game with back-to-back losses and will be keen for a victory. Considering Bendigo is 2-1 at home it may be a great opportunity to get a victory, but Melbourne are unbeaten on the road prior to this round. The last time these sides faced was in Round 2, with an earlier clash in Round 1 – both of which were won by the Boomers. A third meeting in seven rounds will end their head-to-head fixturing for the season and Bendigo will be desperate to get a win back on their metropolitan counterparts.

Kelly Wilson (11.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.4 assists) and Carley Ernst (10.7 points, 8.0 rebounds) have been the two key players in the Spirit line-up, though Marte Grays has been a welcome inclusion to the side with 10.0 points and 5.6 rebounds. Tessa Lavey has also proven to be a key playmaker in the front court with 4.3 assists to go with her 9.4 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. While the Boomers have slipped up in the past two matches, they remain a strong side across the board, with Allen, George and Garrick just three of their strong contributors. Sophie Cunningham (12.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists) and Ezi Magbegor (10.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks) are two others averaging double-figure points this season.

Melbourne should take home the win here, though Bendigo knows how important this victory is in the context of its season.

UC CAPITALS v. PERTH LYNX
Sunday, November 24, 5pm
National Convention Centre

The final game of the round will have equally as important ramifications on the season with the second placed University of Canberra (UC) Capitals hosting Perth Lynx at the National Convention Centre on Sunday evening. The Capitals will have the longest wait of any side in the competition having not played since November 9 and will have a 15-day gap between matches, while the Lynx will be coming off a Friday night clash against Sydney Uni Flames. Mathematically if the Lynx can win both games, they are back in contention with the top four sides and adding a bit of points difference would not go astray either. But for the Capitals, coming off a fresh win over Southside Flyers, the reigning premiers will be keen to keep the streak going and add to their three-straight wins of late. Yet to lose at home they will be difficult to beat, while the Lynx are yet to win on the road and will be keen to take home a pair of victories when they travel to NSW/ACT this round.

The reigning premiers have a multitude of stars across the court with Kia Nurse (20.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists) the scoring machine working well once again with Kelsey Griffin (16.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.6 steals). Keely Froling has been a strong performer this season putting up numbers of 16.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists, while Olivia Epoupa (8.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 4.0 steals) has been a huge addition to the already impressive outfit. For the Lynx, much has been spoken about the regular starters, but Ariel Atkins has been important since landing in Australia, playing two games off the bench for an average of 13.5 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists, while Lauren Mansfield has also showed her clean hands with 9.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 1.8 steals.

The Capitals are strong favourites and hard to beat at home so it will be difficult to see them losing, but the Lynx will hope that they bring form throughout the weekend and stage a massive upset.

WNBL Round 5 review: Final three games see UC capitalise in Melbourne

REIGNING premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals made it a weekend away in Melbourne to remember, downing the Boomers on Saturday after also getting the better of the Flyers on Thursday night. They moved to second on the table, while other results on Saturday saw Adelaide Lightning smash Bendigo Spirit, and Perth Lynx win their first game since Round 1 to down the Flames for the second time this season and move to fifth on the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) ladder.

Perth Lynx (93) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (74)

Despite a rocky start to the season and having not won since Round 1 – and only against the Flames – Perth’s victory over Sydney Uni moved the Lynx to fifth spot on the table, one of four sides with two or less victories this season and opening up a large gap between the finals-bound places and the rest. The Lynx made their intentions clear early, slamming home 31 points to 15 in the opening term on Saturday night, before extending the half-time lead to 20. They were not going to take the foot off the jugular after the break, adding 22 points to 15 in the third term to end the contest. The Flames managed to grab some important points back in the final term as the Lynx gave plenty of up-and-coming stars a run, but the game was over and they won 93-74. Katie-Rae Ebzery was simply superb for the Lynx, recording a game-high 28 points, four rebounds and two steals, while Lauren Mansfield was a great playmaker thanks to 13 points, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals. Alison Schwagmeyer – while down on her usual point-scoring output – had 10 points, nine rebounds and three steals, as Nadeen Payne and Marena Whittle also added 10 points each to the cause. For the Flames, Colleen Planeta stepped up in defeat to sink 23 points and eight rebounds, while Alice Kunek was the only other major scorer with 14 points, five assists and three rebounds. Lauren Scherf had just eight points but helped out around the court with seven rebounds and five assists.

DC Medal: 3 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 2 – Colleen Planeta (SU), 1 – Lauren Mansfield (PL)

Adelaide Lightning (105) defeated Bendigo Spirit (77)

Adelaide ensured it had some breathing space in the top four thanks to a big win over Bendigo Spirit at home. The Lightning added 28 points to 18 in the opening term, then extended the lead to 17 by the main break. They put together a four quarter performance in front of the home crowd at Titanium Security Arena, winning the last two quarters, 23-16 and 25-21 to run away 28-point winners, 105-77. Brianna Turner was the top scorer on the court with 22 points, eight rebounds and two assists, while Stephanie Talbot had 18 points, four rebounds, eight assists and two steals in a big performance. Chelsea Brook and Lauren Nicholson were busy throughout the game with 16 points apiece with Brook also recording six rebounds. Nicole Seekamp might have had just the 10 points on the board, but came close to a double double, setting up teammates for nine assists on the night. For the losers, Carley Ernst picked up a team-high 17 points and six rebounds, while Shyla Heal tried her hardest off the bench with 16 points and three assists. Kelly Wilson was the other Spirit player to reach double figures in the points column with 15, as well as two rebounds. It was a disappointing night for Bendigo who go into the week’s break having to regroup after the big loss, while Adelaide will head in knowing it is close to the top three sides.

DC Medal: 3 – Brianna Turner (AL), 2 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 1 – Chelsea Brook (AL)

Melbourne Boomers (76) defeated by UC Capitals (79)

In the final game of the round, UC Capitals took back second spot with a huge 79-76 victory over Melbourne Boomers, completing a season-defining weekend away in Melbourne. Having knocked off the previously undefeated Southside Flyers on Thursday night, the Capitals handed the same fate to the Boomers, starting strongly to open a 10-point lead by quarter time. Melbourne went one better in the second quarter to turn it around and lead by a point themselves courtesy of a 26-15 second term, before extending that to four by three quarter time. The reigning premiers refused to lie down however, forcing their way back into the contest to deliver a 29-22 final term to record a narrow 79-76 victory. Kia Nurse was again the top points scorer with 22, as well as three rebounds and three assists, as Kelsey Griffin did as she pleased with nine rebounds, three assists and five steals to accompany her 18 points in a best on court performance. Marianna Tolo started this week and had 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks, while Olivia Epoupa finished with a productive five rebounds, eight assists and four steals to go with five points. For the Boomers, Lindsay Allen (18 points, six assists) and Sophie Cunningham (18 points, three rebounds and two steals) tried hard throughout the contest, while Cayla George had 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists in defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Kia Nurse (UC), 1 – Cayla George (MB)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

13 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
12 –
11 – Mercedes Russell (SF), Cayla George (MB)
10 – Brianna Turner (AL)
9 –
8 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
7 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Leilani Mitchell (SF), Abby Bishop (TF)
6 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Keely Froling (UC), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), Colleen Planeta (AD), Stephanie Talbot (AL)
5 – Alice Kunek (SU), Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Olivia Epoupa (UC)
4 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Kelly Wilson (BS), Kia Nurse (UC)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Rebecca Tobin (BS)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Madeleine Garrick (MB), Micaela Cocks (TF), Rebecca Cole (SF), Chelsea Brook (AD)
1 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Sara Blicavs (SF), Ariel Atkins (PL), Lauren Mansfield (PL)

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.

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 4

REIGNING premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals were back on the board in a big way, both with an important win over Sydney Uni Flames, and in our Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Team of the Week for Round 4. The Capitals had three players named in our 10-player team, one more than Perth Lynx and Townsville Fire, who surprisingly played each other in a tight game. Southside Flyers, Melbourne Boomers and Adelaide Lightning all had a player in the team to round it out, with Bendigo Spirit and Sydney Uni missing out this week.

Townsville picked up its first win of the season and had an impressive two players in the starting line-up. Abby Bishop had a dominant performance with a round-high 31 points, as well as 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals in one of the performances of the weekend. She was joined in the starting side by captain Micaela Cocks, who picked up 22 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in the Fire’s win over Perth Lynx. A Lynx debutant was named in the other starting five guard spot beside Cocks, with American import, Ariel Atkins shooting 19 points and compiling seven rebounds and four assists in a big performance to tip-off her WNBL career. She was joined in the overall Team of the Week by teammate, Katie-Rae Ebzery.

Another American import who has had an amazing season so far is Mercedes Russell, with the Southside Flyers’ center having another couple of big games. Russell posted 15.5 points, 13.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.5 steals, while shooting at 73.7 per cent from the field. Rounding out the starting five is UC Capitals’ Keely Froling who was named second forward in back-to-back weeks. She had 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal in the Capitals’ win over the Flames, but was far from the sole contributor, joined in the side by teammates Olivia Epoupa and Kelsey Griffin who make up two of the five bench players. Adelaide’s Brianna Turner and Melbourne’s Cayla George fill out the final two spots in the 10-player squad.

Others who were unlucky to miss out on a spot include Bendigo’s Rebecca Tobin and Kelly Wilson, Southside’s Rebecca Cole and Sara Blicavs, Adelaide’s Stephanie Talbot, Townsville’s Tess Madgen and Sydney Uni’s Alice Kunek.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Micaela Cocks (TF) – 22 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 75.0 FG%
G: Ariel Atkins (PL) – 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 50.0 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 15.5 points, 13.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 2.0 blocks, 73.7 FG%
F: Abby Bishop (TF) – 31 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 47.8 FG%
F: Keely Froling (UC) – 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 61.5 FG%

BENCH:

G: Olivia Epoupa (UC) – 12 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists, 4 steals, 0 blocks, 85.7 FG%
G: Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL) – 14 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 35.7 FG%
C: Cayla George (MB) – 22 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 1 block, 50.0 FG%
F: Brianna Turner (AL) – 21 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 38.9 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) – 19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 47.1 FG%

WNBL Round 4 review: Townsville ignites season as Bendigo strike at home

THERE was plenty of action in Round 4 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) with the Flyers flexing their muscles once again with a convincing 13 point while Townsville Fire registered their first win of the season in a hard-fought battle against Perth.

Bendigo Spirit (67) defeated Adelaide Lightning (54)

It was a massively spirited performance by Bendigo to get the points against Adelaide Lightning in what was a crucial game for ladder positions. The Spirit kept in touch with the top four thanks to the 13-point win, and won three of the four quarters, after levelling the first term. They restricted the Lightning to just eight points in the last term, in a dour affair, showing that the home side can play just as well defensively as they can offensively. Rebecca Tobin was magnificent off the boards with a double double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, as well as a couple of steals and blocks. Abigail Wehrung (16 points, three rebounds) recorded the most points for her side in the low-scoring win, while Demi Skinner (11 points, two rebounds) also contributed off the bench in what was a good night for the bench players, scoring 37 of the 67 points. It was a different story for the Lightning, with Adelaide not getting a point from its bench, instead with just four players posting up points on the night. Brianna Turner (21 points and 12 rebounds) picked up a double double, as did Stephanie Talbot (13 points, 10 rebounds), while Nicole Seekamp (nine points, seven assists and three rebounds) was solid.

DC Medal: 3 – Rebecca Tobin (BS), 2 – Brianna Turner (AL), 1 – Stephanie Talbot (AL)

UC Capitals (91) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (66)

Despite a somewhat sluggish start, there was no cause for concern from the reigning premiers as the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals exacted their revenge on their NSW/ACT rivals, Sydney Uni Flames, winning 91-66. The 25-point win was fairly comprehensive given the Flames had got the better of the Capitals in Round 3, with the Capitals also going down early in the weekend to make it back-to-back losses. They bounced back with a big win in this clash at home, as they had contributors across the floor. Kia Nurse was the top points scorer with 21, as well as four assists and three steals, while it was hard to decide the best influence as Kelsey Griffin got back to some of her best basketball thanks to 19 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. The damaging duo was not the only Capitals to impact in a multitude of ways, as Olivia Epoupa (12 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists and four steals) came agonisingly close to a triple double, and Keely Froling‘s work off the bench (19 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks) was also noted. For the losing side it was hard to find winners on the court, as Alice Kunek (17 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Jessica Kuster (16 points, four rebounds, two assists and twos steals) were the two main contributors as a number of their usual reliable stars being down on numbers. Lauren Scherf still managed nine rebounds to go with her six points and four assists, but the Flames will be keen to bounce back from the night.

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

Perth Lynx (88) defeated by Townsville Fire (93)

In a memorable night for the visitors and another forgettable one for the home side, Townsville Fire celebrated their first win of the season while piling on more pain to Perth Lynx. In what was their fourth consecutive loss after an initial Round 1 win, Perth looked good to bounce back in the first half, winning both the opening two quarters to lead by six at half-time. It proved to not be enough however, as Townsville raced home with a 20-15 final term to force overtime. It was there the momentum of the Fire kept building as they outscored the Lynx 13-8 in the period to record an all-important victory, 93-88. Abby Bishop was the star of the show with 31 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Micaela Cocks led from the front for her side, posting up 22 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. Tess Madgen was the other Fire player to reach double figures thanks to 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists. For the Lynx, Alison Schwagmeyer‘s strong start to the season continued with another 23 points, as well as three rebounds and three assists, while Ariel Atkins came off the bench in her first game of the season since landing in Australia from the US, putting up 19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a steal. Katie-Rae Ebzery (14 points, nine assists, four rebounds and three steals) contributed across the court and was always prominent.

DC Medal: 3 – Abby Bishop (TF), 2 – Micaela Cocks (TF), 1 – Ariel Atkins (PL)

Southside Flyers (93) defeated Bendigo Spirit (80)

For the second time in as many weeks, Southside Flyers emerged victorious against Bendigo Spirit, defeating their lower ranked Victorian counterparts by 13 points in the Sunday evening game. Southside remained undefeated with the victory and headed into Monday’s night’s blockbuster with Melbourne Boomers with the same form line as their opponents. In the win against Bendigo, Southside flew out of the blocks to put up 24 points to 18 in the first term, then won the second to lead by seven at half-time. Bendigo forced its way back into the contest with a 21-16 third term to get within a basket, but Southside steadied to run away with it 30-19 in the last quarter and secure the 93-80 win. Mercedes Russell was superb once again, picking up a double double with a massive 15 rebounds to go with her 12 points, four assists, three blocks and two steals, while Rebecca Cole (23 points, four assists and two steals) and Sara Blicavs (21 points, three rebounds and three steals) were the strong scorers. Leilani Mitchell had six assists with her 16 points, while Jenna O’Hea (12 points, four rebounds and three assists) also reached double-figure points. For the Spirit, Tobin had 16 points, six rebounds and two steals, while Kelly Wilson was just as impressive with 15 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Wehrung (13 points) was the other Spirit player to reach double-figure points, but it was not enough across the board.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Kelly Wilson (BS), 1 – Rebecca Cole (SF)

Stay tuned for the review of the blockbuster match between the undefeated Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers.

DC Medal Leaderboard:

8 – Cayla George (MB), Lindsay Allen (MB), Mercedes Russell (SF)
7 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Leilani Mitchell (SF), Brianna Turner (AL), Kelsey Griffin (UC)
6 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Abby Bishop (TF)
5 –
4 – Colleen Planeta (AD), Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Stephanie Talbot (AL), Keely Froling (UC), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Kelly Wilson (BS)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Rebecca Tobin (BS)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Kia Nurse (UC), Madeleine Garrick (MB), Alice Kunek (SU), Micaela Cocks (TF)
1 – Chelsea Brook (AD), Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Sara Blicavs (SF), Ariel Atkins (PL), Rebecca Cole (SF)

WNBL 2019/2020 preview: Round 4 – Unbeaten all-Victorian clash set for Monday blockbuster

ALL eyes could turn to a packed out State Basketball Centre on Monday night when the two undefeated sides, Melbourne Boomers and Southside Flyers go head-to-head for the first time in Round 4 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). The Flyers still have to get past Bendigo Spirit the day before, but providing they can win, it sets up a tantalising match-up.

BENDIGO SPIRIT v. ADELAIDE LIGHTNING
Friday, November 1, 7:00pm
Bendigo Stadium

Playing off for the first time this season, the Spirit are hoping to bounce back from their third loss of the season, coming up against third placed Adelaide Lightning who have found some form with back-to-back wins in the past two rounds. The Lightning are poised if one of the top two Victorian teams slips up, especially after the UC Capitals dropped both games last round. For Bendigo, they have just one win from their first four games and will be keen to get one-up on the Lightning and keep in touch with the top few sides. Last time these sides met was last season in January, with Nia Coffey dropping 37 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two blocks on the Spirit as the Lightning ran our 11-point winners. On that day, the now Perth Lynx forward Nadeen Payne was Bendigo’s best with 21 points, four rebounds and an assist. In season 2019, Lauren Nicholson has been the prolific scorer for the Lightning, averaging 18.8 points, while Brianna Turner has been arguably Adelaide’s best player to-date with nine rebounds to accompany her 15.3 points, as well as an assist, block and steal per game. For the Spirit, Marte Grays has been a terrific addition to the side this season, with the American averaging 15.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.3 steals. Carley Ernst has also been prolific with 10.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists, while Kelly Wilson has been the playmaker with 10.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists. Adelaide go into this game as favourites, but Bendigo will be keen to upset the Lightning in front of the Spirit faithful.

UC CAPITALS v SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Saturday, November 2, 5:00pm
AIS Arena

The reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals do not have to look too far back for motivation against their NSW/ACT rivals, suffering a shock loss to last year’s wooden spooners last round despite being undefeated heading into the weekend. The Capitals also dropped a game to the undefeated Boomers in an un-Capitals like performance, going down by 35 points. The Flames on the other hand finally found form with the win after three consecutive losses, ensuring they moved off the bottom to leapfrog Townsville Fire and remain just percentage out of the top four. Given UC’s heavy loss to the Boomers, a win to the Flames by three points or more would see them move past the highly fancied Capitals. The Capitals are unlikely to have a worse weekend any time soon, with Kia Nurse, Keely Froling, Kelsey Griffin and Olivia Epoupa providing a really strong top four. Nurse, Froling and Griffin all average 16.8 points or more, with Griffin also averaging a double-double with 12.3 rebounds, while Froling (7.3 rebounds) has been a great help off the boards. For the Flames, Colleen Planeta has been busy since crossing from the Lightning, averaging 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Alice Kunek (18.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists) and Lauren Scherf (6.8 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steal) have also provided great coverage and support across the court. The Capitals deservedly go in as favourites despite last weekend’s results. While the Flames will hope to make history repeat itself, the Capitals will be keen to repay the favour bestowed upon them in Round 3, with a return victory at home.

PERTH LYNX v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Saturday, November 2, 6.30pm
Bendat Basketball Stadium

Two sides that are yet to play each other in the calendar year are the Perth Lynx and Townsville Fire. You have to go back to December 14 last year for the last time these sides met, when Townsville upset the Lynx by 25 points at home. It came after Perth won the first two encounters, at home and away by 10 and eight points respectively. Both teams usually put in a close contest aside from the last outing, and expect plenty to be on the line with the sides in poor form of late. The Lynx have dropped their past three matches of the season, only lessened by the Fire who are the only side yet to put up a win from four encounters. Considering they have dropped all their games to-date, the Fire have maintained relative competitiveness, while the Lynx have been incredibly unlucky, with an overtime loss against the Lightning in Round 3 a perfect example. Alison Schwagmeyer is having some sort of season this year, with 18.5 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game, while Payne (16.0 points, 4.0 rebounds) and Imani McGee-Stafford (14.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.3 blocks) have been superb for the Lynx as well. Last week, Katie-Rae Ebzery stepped up to bring her points average into double figures, now averaging 13.5 points, but crucially, 7.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds as the key playmaker for Perth. The Fire have been led by Abby Bishop who has averaged 18.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals per game, while Tess Madgen (12.8 points, 5.3 rebounds), Bridget Carleton (11.5 points, 5.0 rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (11.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.5 steals) have also provided support across the court. Perth would see this game as an absolute must-win at home against the last placed, winless Fire, but Townsville will also see this match as an opportunity to pounce against a side that has dropped off a tad in the past two rounds.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Sunday, November 3, 5:00pm
Dandenong Stadium

Whilst the previous head-to-head had a 10-month gap between games, Southside played Bendigo just last round and will be hoping to double the dose this weekend with a second home match. These sides faced off at this very venue in Dandenong, with the Flyers getting up by eight points. While the result will be fresh in supporters’ minds, it was the likes of Sara Blicavs (23 points, two rebounds and two steals), Mercedes Russell (18 points, 11 rebounds) and Leilani Mitchell (13 points, five rebounds and seven assists) who applied the pressure to the Spirit. Grays was superb in a losing side with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Tessa Lavey helped herself to 17 points, four rebounds and seven assists in arguably her best game to-date. Gabrielle Richards (14 points, five rebounds) was also important, while Wilson was quiet on the points front with just seven, though she had six assists and three rebounds. Southside is living up to its name, flying into season 2019/20 with four straight wins to open the season. Russell has been a superb inclusion to the side, averaging 15.8 points and 10.3 rebounds, while Mitchell (UC Capitals) was another one who has stepped into the side with ease, averaging 14.8 points, 5.0 points and 7.8 assists, as well as almost two steals per game. Jenna O’Hea (16.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 3.5 steals) has had a remarkable start to the season, while Rebecca Cole and Blicavs have also averaged 13.8 points per game in what has been as good of a start to the season as the Flyers would have hoped from their starting five. Expect the Flyers to win this game, but they would not want to hand the Spirit any momentum because Bendigo fought back right into the contest last weekend.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Monday, November 4, 7:30pm
State Basketball Centre

The first WNBL Monday night fixture of the season could not be more highly anticipated with two Victorian clubs likely to head into the clash undefeated at the top-of-the-table. Both teams are currently 4-0 heading into Round 4, with the Flyers taking on the Spirit a day before this clash to try and leapfrog the Boomers – at least temporarily – into top spot. Melbourne’s points difference this season has been remarkable, with plus-63 compared to its opponents, making Southside’s plus-34 look somewhat inadequate. However the Flyers have got the job done each and every time, including against high quality opponents. Now they take on the benchmark in the competition, with arguably the strongest starting fives in the competition going head-to-head. While we mentioned above about Russell, Mitchell, O’Hea, Cole and Blicavs having an impact thus far in season 2019/20, the Boomers’ starting five have also all averaged double-figure points this season. Lindsay Allen has led the way with 19.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists, while Cayla George is averaging a double-double courtesy of her 16 points and 10 rebounds per game. Ezi Magbegor (11.5 points, 4.3 rebounds), Sophie Cunningham (11.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists) and Madeleine Garrick (11.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.5 steals) have all been impressive. The head-to-head clashes in this game are exciting with a great mix of youth, experience and international talent on show and the game is not to be missed. The Boomers look likely to start favourites, but Southside has been building nicely this season and will be keen to get one-up on the ladder leaders.

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 2

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have dominated our Draft Central Women’s National Basketball (WNBL) Team of the Week, having three of a possible 10 players in the side. The top six sides on the ladder all had a representative, with University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Perth Lynx both having two representatives, while Adelaide Lightning, Melbourne Boomers and Bendigo Spirit all had a nominee each. The two winless sides – Townsville Fire and Sydney Uni Flames did not manage a player this week, leaving Townsville as the only side yet to have a player in the team from the first two weeks.

Alison Schwagmeyer became the sole player to make our starting Team of the Week in both rounds thus far, named in the guard position for a second consecutive week after averaging 22.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists this weekend. The Perth Lynx starter was joined in the team by fellow guard, Imani McGee-Stafford who narrowly missed out last week, but made the cut for Round 2. Also in the team for the second consecutive week is UC Capitals star, Kelsey Griffin who was named on the bench this week after being starting side last round. It was no indication of a drop in performance though with so many others standing up. Griffin had 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, joined in the side by guard, Olivia Epoupa whose seven steals got her a starting spot to go with her 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Southside’s Leilani Mitchell was the third player to be named across both weeks, named in the bench guard position after averaging 12.5 points. 4.5 rebounds, 10.0 assists and 2.0 steals across two games. She was joined in the side by teammates, Jenna O’Hea (20.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 4.0 steals and 1.0 blocks) and Mercedes Russell (16.5 points, 13.0 rebounds) after big games. Also in the side is Melbourne Boomers’ Cayla George and Adelaide Lightning’s Brianna Turner who round out the 10-player squad this week.

Among the names considered for the team but missed out were Adelaide Lightning pair, Nicole Seekamp and Stephanie Talbot, Sydney Uni Flames’ Alice Kunek and Jessica Kuster, Townsville Fire duo Abby Bishop and Darcee Garbin, Bendigo Spirit’s Kelly Wilson and Marte Grays, and Melbourne Boomers’ Sophie Cunningham.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Alison Schwagmeyer (PL) 22.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 0.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 54.5 FG%
G: Olivia Epoupa (UC) 13 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 7 steals, 0 blocks, 46.2 FG%
C: Cayla George (MB) 24 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 steals, 3 blocks, 62.5 FG%
F: Jenna O’Hea (SF) 20.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 4.0 steals, 1.0 block, 69.6 FG%
F: Carley Ernst (BS) 17.5 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 40.0 FG%

BENCH:

G: Leilani Mitchell (SF) 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 10.0 assists, 2.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 30.8 FG%
G: Imani McGee-Stafford (PL) 16.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 2.0 blocks, 40.7 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) 16.5 points, 13.0 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, 44.8 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) 16 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 0 steals, 1 block, 38.5 FG%
F: Brianna Turner (AL) 19 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 63.6 FG%

WNBL Round 2 review: Victorian sides, reigning premiers remain undefeated

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have taken to the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) competition like a duck to water, winning their first three games – including a nail-biter over title contenders Perth Lynx, to head up the table at the end of Round 2. Melbourne Boomers and University of Canberra (UC) Capitals also remain undefeated, while Adelaide Lightning bounced back with a win to sit second with two victories from three games.

Southside Flyers (97) defeated Perth Lynx (93)

The WNBL’s newest named side maintained its unbeaten start to the season with an overtime thriller at home against top-of-the-table Perth Lynx. The Southside Flyers raced away to a six-point lead at the main break, before the Lynx cut the deficit to four with a quarter to play. A desperate high-scoring final term saw the visitors draw level at the final buzzer, with overtime needed to settle the result. Southside scored 11-7 in overtime to get home by four points, 97-93. Mercedes Russell turned it on with a clear standout performance for the winners, posting up 18 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and one block in a big performance, while Jenna O’Hea also impressed with 19 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and a mind-boggling six steals. Sara Blicavs (11 points, nine rebounds) and Leilani Mitchell (11 points, 10 assists and three rebounds) were also strong in the win, as Rebecca Cole picked up three steals as well as 16 points. Despite the loss, the standout player on the court by far was Alison Schwagmeyer who looked unstoppable with 34 points at 58.3 per cent from the field, as well as 12 rebounds and three assists. Lauren Mansfield was the playmaker in the forward half, picking up nine assists – more than half her team’s total – to go with eight points and three rebounds, while Imani McGee-Stafford (17 points, nine rebounds and four blocks) was also impressive.

DC Medal: 3 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 2 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 1 – Jenna O’Hea (SF)

Townsville Fire (68) defeated by Adelaide Lightning (86)

A fast-starting Adelaide Lightning flew into second spot on the WNBL ladder with a crushing 18-point win on the road against Townsville Fire. The Lightning struck early with 23 points to 12 in the first term, and by half-time the margin was out to 18. With the final break deficit sitting at 20, the Fire burnt into the lead marginally, winning the final term 20-18, but it was a case of too little, too late. Adelaide shared the points around with six players reaching double figures and contributing all the scores on the board, lead by Brianna Turner (19 points, nine rebounds, two steals and three blocks). Stephanie Talbot (18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) contributed across all stat categories, as Lauren Nicholson (15 points, four rebounds), Natalie Hurst (13 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Nicole Seekamp (11 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals) were also impressive on the night. For the Fire, Abby Bishop (24 points, eight rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (13 points, 10 rebounds) were the only major points scorers with more than half the team’s score and rebounds. Tess Madgen also had a solid night in a losing side with six points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals.

DC Medal: 3 – Brianna Turner (AL), 2 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 1 – Nicole Seekamp (AL)

Sydney Uni Flames (72) defeated by Southside Flyers (85)

The two contrasting starts to the season by these two teams continued, with Southside Flyers’ third consecutive win also marking Sydney Uni Flames’ third consecutive loss. The home side started with promise, level with the equal ladder leaders after one term. Southside took control in the second term, adding 26 points to the Flames’ 20, before Sydney Uni hit back to cut the deficit to just three with a quarter to spare. It was all the Flyers in the final term however, as Southside sank 23 points to 13, to run away with a 13-point win, 85-72. O’Hea led the way for the Flyers, posting 22 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block, while Russell was once again influential with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Mitchell was dominant across all areas to be a standout at both ends, finishing with 14 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and three steals, while Cole had 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals. For the losing side, Alice Kunek was the top player, dropping 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Jessica Kuster picked up a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Tahlia Tupaea (15 points, three rebounds and four assists) and Colleen Planeta (14 points, five rebounds and two blocks) were others who stood tall despite the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), 2 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), 1 – Jessica Kuster (SU)

Melbourne Boomers (74) defeated Bendigo Spirit (70)

The Boomers maintained their unbeaten streak to start the season with a narrow four-point win over Bendigo Spirit at the State Basketball Centre. Neither side could be split in the first two quarters, level at both breaks before the Boomers blasted away with a 23-17 third term. Bendigo hit back in the final term, but despite showing spirit they could only cut the deficit by two, going down 70-74. Cayla George was the dominant player on the court, putting in a match-winning performance with 24 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Boomers. Sophie Cunningham (18 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Lindsay Allen (12 points, seven rebounds and six assists) were the other two Boomers to have a real influence on the game. For Bendigo, they also had a trio of standouts, with Kelly Wilson (19 points, three rebounds, seven assists and two steals) leading the way. Tessa Lavey (13 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Marte Grays (12 points, seven rebounds) were the other players who could hold their head high despite the defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Kelly Wilson (BS), 1 – Sophie Cunningham (MB)

UC Capitals (67) defeated Townsville Fire (65)

In a similar story to the previous week, reigning premiers UC Capitals had to dig deep to overcome the winless Townsville Fire, falling as much as four points behind at the final break before powering home with a 17-11 final term to take home the points. The 67-65 victory showed the Capitals are never out of the contest, having to pull out all the stops to get over the top of their opponents in Canberra. It was no surprise to see Kelsey Griffin on top of things once again, racking up another double-double courtesy of 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Kia Nurse also sank 16 points, two rebounds and three assists. Keely Froling (13 points, three rebounds and two assists) was solid on the scoring front, while Olivia Epoupa picked pockets like the Artful Dodger, racking up a massive seven steals to go with eight rebounds, four assists and 13 points. For the Fire, Bridget Carleton had the most points in the loss, shooting 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists, while Bishop was strong with a double-double thanks to 12 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four steals. Micaela Cocks (13 points, five rebounds) and Madgen (10 points, five rebounds) also put up solid numbers.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Olivia Epoupa (UC), 1 – Abby Bishop (TF)

Bendigo Spirit (91) defeated Perth Lynx (79)

Bendigo bounced back from the heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Boomers the day before to outstay Perth Lynx in an impressive performance. The Spirit trailed by 10 points at quarter time, but took control after that, cutting the deficit to six at half-time and one by the final break. With the game in the balance, the Spirit stepped it up a notch, sinking 26 points to 13 to run away with the contest, 91-79 in a 12-point victory. Carley Ernst put up a massive 29 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win, while Grays (15 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Lavey (12 points, five rebounds and five assists) were impressive, as was Abbey Wehrung (14 points, two rebounds). For the Lynx, three players recorded 15 points apiece, as Nadeen Payne (15 points, two rebounds), Marena Whittle (15 points, three rebounds and two assists) and McGee-Stafford (15 points, nine rebounds and three assists) were the top scorers. Schwagmeyer posted more impressive numbers with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Carley Ernst (BS), 2 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), 1 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

7 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL)
6 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Kelsey Griffin (UC)
5 – Cayla George (MB), Leilani Mitchell (SS)
4 – Colleen Planeta (AD), Imani McGee-Stafford (PL)
3 – Lindsay Allen (MB), Carley Ernst (BS), Brianna Turner (AL)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Kia Nurse (UC), Mercedes Russell (SF), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Kelly Wilson (BS), Stephanie Talbot (AL)
1 – Chelsea Brook (AD), Madeleine Garrick (MB), Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Abby Bishop (TF), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL)