Tag: mercedes russell

Draft Central’s 2019/20 WNBL Top 10 Players: #2 – Brianna Turner

ONE of the WNBL’s fresh new faces to arrive over from the United States (US), Brianna Turner landed Down Under keen to expand her basketball knowledge and continue her development  thanks to a recommendation from her head coach at the Phoenix Mercury.

“In the WNBA, Sandy Bondello is my coach and she coaches the Australian National Team, I’ve heard nothing but good things [about the WNBL] which really attracted me,” said Turner. “I want to raise my basketball IQ and learn the details of the game.”

After a brief 21-minute stint against the Sydney Uni Flames in Round 1, Turner would flip the switch and begin playing at an extraordinary level of efficiency and production. Turner’s first major mark she would make on the WNBL, came in Round 3, as the Lightning sized up to a formidable Perth Lynx squad.

Regrettably for the Lynx, they had no answer for the Mercury-listee, as she dominated the rebounding conversation, hustling her way to 17 rebounds and 26 points. These kinds of performances became the norm for the 23-year-old, as she would terrorise the glass with her tenacity and discipline.

Rivalling Mercedes Russell as one of the premier frontcourt players in the League, Turner’s 10 double-doubles throughout the regular season would put her at the top of the rankings in several categories following Round 16 of the campaign.

Turner’s stat line would read an impressive 16.8 points (fourth in scoring), 10.7 rebounds (second in rebounds) and 2.4 blocks (league leader) per game. An All-WNBA Rookie and a NCAA Champion with Notre Dame, Turner is no stranger to success on the court, so it would come as no surprise that the Texan would take home an All-WNBL First Team selection and receive the Lightning’s Best and Fairest Award, capping of what was a well-rounded season individually.

As a team, the Lightning looked to the minor premier Southside Flyers for their semi-final matchup, after solidifying fourth spot in the standings with a record of 12 wins and nine losses. After concluding her season averaging a double-double, the pressure of the postseason didn’t seem to unnerve Turner in the slightest, as she would fall one rebound short of another double-double, accumulating 11 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in Game One.

Game Two and the threat of elimination would spur her on to an even greater extent, this time with the Power Forward/Centre racking up 25 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks. But like so many others before them, the combination of Jenna O’Hea, Leilani Mitchell and Russell would prove too much, as the Lightning would bow out of the finals in a two-game sweep.

Being the third and final Lightning player on Draft Central’s Top 10 WNBL Players of the season, there was plenty to celebrate in South Australia in 2020. Perhaps if Turner makes a return to Chris Lucas’s squad next season, then maybe Adelaide can make it one step closer to the franchise’s first championship in more than a decade.

Draft Central’s 2019/20 WNBL Top 10 Players: #3 – Mercedes Russell

WHEN it comes to how Southside Flyers’ centre Mercedes Russell perceives herself, she tells of someone who is, “very low maintenance, laid-back and just go with the flow”. “Play me a good amount of minutes and I’m happy,” she added. Russell would receive what her appetite for basketball required, as she would average close to 31 minutes per game during the regular season, thus allowing her to become one of the most dominant frontcourt players in the Australian basketball scene and number three in this season’s edition of Draft Central’s Top 10 players.

The 24-year-old made her mark on history straight away, scoring the first ever points for the newly formed Flyers organisation and never looked back. Despite a rusty start to the season, scoring just 12 points and collecting four rebounds against the Townsville Fire in Round 1, Russell’s numbers would increase from then on. Russell’s 12 regular season double-doubles (six straight double-doubles amongst these) would place her in the upper echelon of productive bigs, as she would go neck-and-neck in the race with Brianna Turner of the Adelaide Lightning for a selection to the All-WNBL First Team.

Unfortunately for Russell, she would have to settle for an All-WNBL Second Team selection, however, finishing her season with 16.5 points per contest (fifth amongst league leaders) while averaging 9.8 rebounds (fourth amongst league leaders) is nothing short of spectacular for the WNBA champion. Another facet of Russell’s game that more often than not goes under the radar, was her ability to score efficiently around the rim, which remains a cornerstone of any center’s game. She would go on to convert 55.4 per cent of her baskets (fourth highest in the league).

After being awarded the WNBL’s Robyn Maher Award (Defensive Player of the Year) and helping her side to a competition-best 17 wins and four losses, Russell and the Flyers looked to their semi-final series against the Lightning and Turner, in what would be a battle of the bigs. With Game One not disappointing, Russell would bring her A-game, logging 20 points on 53 per cent shooting from the field and a season-high 19 rebounds in a full 40 minutes of play, as her side would steal the win by a narrow-three points and carry momentum over into Game Two.

Despite just 15 points and four rebounds in the following contest, the Flyers’ depth would prove too much for the Lightning, culminating in a series sweep and the franchise’s first Grand Final appearance in their inaugural season. Even though Russell would average a double-double (13.5 points and 11 rebounds) in the deciding series, the Flyers would go down to the UC Capitals in a 2-0 sweep, cutting short what would have a been a dream debut season for the Oregon-native.

Nevertheless, should Russell return to the Flyers next season, we should expect nothing short of great things in 2021, as Russell’s get-it-done mentality gives her an edge no matter where she plays. “I just try to be as available as I can be and do whatever my teammates need me to do in order for us to win because that’s the most important part.”

Draft Central’s Top 10 2019/20 WNBL memorable moments: #5 – Southside Flyers’ road win against UC Capitals

WITH no basketball on for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at the brighter side of the sport that brought plenty of memories throughout the 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season. Over the next couple of weeks we will countdown Draft Central‘s Top 10 memorable moments from the season. Some are individual events, others are season views, and even a couple are decisions that panned out for the better. Today we continue with number five, which looks at the only dint in the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals’ armour at home – Southside Flyers’ win on the road.

#5 Southside Flyers’ road win against UC Capitals

After copping a disappointing loss to the Capitals earlier in the season at their home court where they went down by 19 points, the Flyers were primed for the next encounter between the pair. At the stage of the first loss, the Flyers were living up to their name and flying, while the Capitals had made a shaky start, thumped by Melbourne Boomers in Geelong and then losing to last year’s wooden spooners, Sydney Uni Flames a couple of days later. Coming into the round, the Capitals had smashed Bendigo Spirit by 25 points on the road, and the Flyers had got up in a seven-point thriller over Melbourne back in Round 8. Already in Round 9, Southside had downed Townsville by 19 points and would fly up to Canberra the next day to face the Capitals who were fresh and raring to go.

Instead, it was the Flyers who started the stronger of the teams, leading by three points at quarter time courtesy of a 22-19 opening term. UC hit right back in the second quarter pleasing the Capitals’ fans to regain the lead by a point, then extended it out to three by the final break. A remarkable final term saw the Flyers put the foot on the gas and accelerate away with a 23-15 last quarter that home fans in Canberra would have otherwise not witnessed or would witness for the remainder of the season. In what would be the only Capitals’ home loss of the season, the score read 70-65 in favour of the visiting team. It was just that kind of day for the Flyers, with Rebecca Cole leading the points-scorers with 21, as well as three rebounds and two steals, well aided by the work of Mercedes Russell (17 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks) and former Capitals talent, Leilani Mitchell (15 points, seven rebounds and two assists).

Most of the Capitals stars were down on their output with 2018/19 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kelsey Griffin scoring just four points, shooting at 16.7 per cent from the field, though she did pick up 12 defensive rebounds and a couple of steals. It would be revealed later that Griffin put in a monumental effort to finish the game, suffering an ankle injury in the last term but remaining out there in a bid to try and get her side over the line. She would miss six weeks through the injury. But aside from Griffin, 2019/20 MVP Kia Nurse was also down on her production, recording just 13 points at 22.7 per cent efficiency from the field, while Marianna Tolo‘s 16 points was the highest from her side, also picking up six rebounds and two assists in the loss. Olivia Epoupa was the pick of the home side with a spirited 11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals. While the result ultimately meant little in the scheme of the season – with the Capitals going back-to-back – it was certainly a moment to savour for the league’s newest franchise.

Top 10 WNBL 2019/20 moments countdown so far:

#10 – Ezi Magbegor wins second Rookie of the Year award
#9 – Bendigo Spirit breaks road drought
#8 – Mercedes Russell stars in debut season
#7 – Southside’s flying first season
#6 – Back-to-back overtime victories shape finals series
#5 – Southside Flyers’ road win against UC Capitals

Draft Central’s Top 10 2019/20 WNBL memorable moments: #7 – Southside’s flying first season

WITH no basketball for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at the brighter side of the sport that brought plenty of memories throughout the 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season. Over the next couple of weeks we will countdown Draft Central‘s Top 10 memorable moments from the season. Some are individual events, others are season views, and even a couple are decisions that panned out for the better. Today we continue with number seven, with the competition’s newest side – rebranded from the Dandenong Rangers – having an impeccable first season that came close to making history.

#7 Southside Flyers stunning first WNBL season under rebrand

In a fresh rebrand, Southside Flyers looked to include more of the region outside of Dandenong from the previous Rangers’ side that in its own right had been quite impressive through the WNBL. In at number seven for our countdown, we look at the Flyers’ first season in the competition. While the minor premiers ultimately fell short of the top prize, there was plenty to celebrate in season 2019/20. They finished top of the table comfortably (with a 17-4 win-loss record), and then went on to win both their semi-finals to advance through to the Grand Final Series. Whilst both games were thrillers against the reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals, it was not to be, bowing out in the final game of the season.

In our last countdown we noted how impressive Mercedes Russell has been averaging a double-double per game, but equally important were the likes of Rebecca Cole, Sarah Blicavs, Jenna O’Hea and Leilani Mitchell. Both O’Hea and Mitchell had joined the club from rival organisations to form a formidable starting five that was hard to top. Add in the youth of Anneli Maley and Kiera Rowe, and the importance of Aimie Clydesdale off the bench, and the Flyers had a really strong squad as a whole. While they were not able to get the chocolates in the end, they really made life difficult for the opposition and it showed in the end result of a minor premiership and grand final.

Top 10 WNBL 2019/20 moments countdown so far:

#10 – Ezi Magbegor wins second Rookie of the Year award
#9 – Bendigo Spirit breaks road drought
#8 – Mercedes Russell stars in debut season
#7 – Southside’s flying first season

Draft Central’s Top 10 2019/20 WNBL memorable moments: #8 – Mercedes Russell stars in debut season

WITH no basketball on for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at the brighter side of the sport that brought plenty of memories throughout the 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season. Over the next couple of weeks we will countdown Draft Central‘s Top 10 memorable moments from the season. Some are individual events, others are season views, and even a couple are decisions that panned out for the better. Today we continue with number eight, looking at the star import from season 2019/20 who dominated for the Southside Flyers.

#8 Mercedes Russell dazzles for Flyers in stunning debut season

Each year WNBL clubs try and spot a diamond from overseas and very few get it wrong when turning their attention to the WNBA in particular. As has been the case with the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals’ Kia Nurse, Mercedes Russell proved to be a huge hit for the Southside Flyers, playing through the center position and having ridiculous amounts of rebounds game-in, game-out as well as plenty of points, picking up double doubles galore throughout the 2019/20 season. She did not hit a three-pointer during the season, but her work up close was better than most, averaging 56 per cent from two-point range.

At 198cm, Russell towered against most of her opponents, putting up numbers of 16.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.0 block per game. She could still improve her shooting from the line (65.9 per cent), but her dominance off the boards made her a damaging threat to any opposition. Her reward for effort saw her named the Robyn Maher Defensive Player of the Year. She teamed up well with fellow big, Marianna Tolo for the Flyers, and was also named in the WNBL All-Star Second Team with another teammate, Rebecca Cole. The 24-year-old will head back to the Seattle Storm where she was a member of the WNBA Championship side.

Top 10 WNBL 2019/20 moments countdown so far:

#10 – Ezi Magbegor wins second Rookie of the Year award
#9 – Bendigo Spirit breaks road drought
#8 – Mercedes Russell stars in debut season

Draft Central’s Top 10 2019/20 WNBL memorable moments: #10 – Magbegor claims second Rookie of the Year award

WITH no basketball on for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at the brighter side of the sport that brought plenty of memories throughout the 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season. Over the next couple of weeks we will countdown Draft Central‘s Top 10 memorable moments from the season. Some are individual events, others are season views, and even a couple are decisions that panned out for the better. Today we begin with number 10, a young star who continues to shine brightly on the national stage.

#10 Ezi Magbegor claims Betty Watson Australian Youth Player of the Year for the second time

Formerly the Rookie of the Year Award, 20-year-old Ezi Magbegor took home her second rookie award after triumphing in the 2017/18 season when playing for the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and now she has taken out the award in Melbourne Boomers’ colours. Building on from her successful year with the Geelong Supercats in the NBL1 where she averaged 18.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.7 steals an 1.6 blocks per game and made the NBL1 All-Star Five, Magbegor took her game to another level again at national level. In 23 games, Magbegor put up numbers of 13.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 blocks per game for the Boomers, shooting at greater than 50 per cent from the field, as well as 78 per cent from the free-throw line. While not a known three-point shooter, the 193cm forward-center still recorded five makes from 11 attempts. Despite her season, Magbegor just missed out on being named in the WNBL All-Star First and Second teams, mainly due to the fact the likes of fellow bigs, Mercedes Russell and Cayla George putting out tremendous years.

Magbegor was initially eyeing off representing the 2020 Olympics and joining her WNBA side, Seattle Storm for the 2020/21 season. No doubt many will hope that it is not the last time Magbegor runs out in the WNBL, but her future is bright and even with likely delays to those events – the Olympics is set to be pushed back to 2021 – no doubt the power forward-center will be a feature of the title-contending Storm team for years to come.

2019/20 WNBL season review: Southside Flyers

IN their inaugural season since changing their name to the Southside Flyers the girls in blue proved they were one to watch immediately making a name for themselves as a real powerhouse in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). The Flyers made it all the way to grand final but stumbled at the final hurdle going down in both matches unfortunately putting a dampener on otherwise a good start to the franchise.

Ladder: 1st (Runners-up)
Win-loss: 17-4

The Flyers were impressive in front of a home crowd recording eight victories at home from a possible 11 games, however it was their ability to win on the road that made them even more daunting. Southside made it nine from 10 away at home highlighting just how damaging they can be in any environment. From Round 1 the newly formed team had a real aura about them claiming convincing wins going on a six-game winning streak before running into trouble against eventual premiers in Round 6. They flexed their muscles against top four side in Melbourne Boomers with a hard-fought seven point victory in the early stages while also showing that they had the ability to mix it with the best downing UC Capitals in Round 9.

They claimed the minor premiership credit to their impressive season but it is fair to say that the Flyers will be disappointed they did not take home the silverware going down two and three points respectively in the grand final series against UC Capitals. They showed their ability to prevail in the close matches getting over the line in both semi-finals against Adelaide Lightning to move through to the grand final but simply could not generate enough scoring power to upset the reigning premiers.

The Flyers had no shortage of stars across the court, with four players averaging double digits in points scored showcasing just how deadly their attacking unit was throughout the season. Rebecca Cole led the way with a team-high average of 16.8 points per game, with import Mercedes Russell not far behind with 16.7 and falling just short of a season average double-double with 9.7 rebounds per game. Russell was a real playmaker for the Flyers and played a whopping 22 games for the season showcasing her durability and reliability consistently able to have an impact. Opals duo Leilani Mitchell and Jenna O’Hea both played major roles in the Flyers dominance with the two combining to be a formidable force. Despite only standing at 165cm Mitchell averaged 15.9 points per game along with a team-high 5.3 assists showcasing her ability to create opportunities to hit the scoreboard. O’Hea did not skip a beat making the move from the Boomers to cross-town rivals downing 14.1 points a match while also making her presence felt off the backboards with 4.9 rebounds a game. Sometimes overshadowed by her teammates, Sara Blicavs played a good support role for the Flyers with the 189cm forward able to hit the scoreboard with an average of 13.5 points and seven rebounds per game. While the Flyers had a wealth of A-class players the likes of Louella Tomlinson and Aimee Clydesdale will be hoping to lift their load if they are to go one better next season.

All in all, it was a comprehensive season for the Flyers who will be licking their lips ahead of the 2020/21 season if they can keep their list together and gain more support from their second tier players.

Capitals a win away from glory as Flyers look to repeat history

BOTH Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) teams know that there is a maximum two games left in the season, and for the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals, there is no better time to strike than tonight. The reigning premiers came from behind in Game 1 to upset the Southside Flyers on the road and get up by just two points in an enthralling contest. It put the Capitals 1-0 up and turned the tables on the favouritism for the title, given both sides’ ability to create a fortress out of their home court. UC Capitals in particular have been unbelievably dominant at AIS Arena, winning all bar one game at the venue.

That one blemish is what the Flyers will hold onto in this match as indeed it was the Southside team that toppled the Capitals in the nation’s capital. On that night, Southside got up by five points, coming from three points down at the final break to win 70-65. Rebecca Cole shot a game-high 21 points, while Mercedes Russell finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Former Capital, Leilani Mitchell (15 points, seven rebounds) was also prolific in the win, while Marianna Tolo (16 points, six rebounds) and Kia Nurse (13 points, five rebounds) were the prominent scorers in the losing side, while Olivia Epoupa (11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals was the best on the court for the Capitals.

Fast forward to last week, and the Capitals turned the tables on the minor premiers, claiming an 82-80 win at the State Basketball Centre, breaking a four-game winning streak by the league’s top side. Though it was not the first time it had happened, because the previous loss for the Flyers was again a defeat at the hands of UC, and again on Southside’s home court. That time it was much uglier with a 24-point win, but last week’s victory has more relevance, and there was not much between the sides by the final buzzer.

Cole again was the top scorer in the match, putting up 23 points as well as recording seven assists, two rebounds and two blocks, while last year’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kelsey Griffin was back to her best with a stunning 18 points, 12 rebounds and two assists. She combined well with the 2019/20 MVP Nurse, who sank 18 points herself and collected five rebounds and two assists. Tolo (15 points, four rebounds and four assists) and Epoupa (14 points, nine rebounds, six assists and four steals) were also busy around the court. Aside from Cole, the Flyers shared the points around with Mitchell (15 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals) and Russell (13 points, nine rebounds) busy, as was Jenna O’Hea who returned to the court after an injury layoff to put up numbers of 14 points and six rebounds. Despite injuring her hand, up-and-coming young gun Maddison Rocci has said she will fight through the pain in Game 2 to try and win back-to-back titles.

The game tips off from 7.30pm at AIS Arena tonight with the UC Capitals strong favourites to sweep the series. The Flyers have had too good of a season to go down without a fight however, and this promises to be a ripping contest. Both these teams would be deserving favourites in the clash, but given UC’s record at home, it is hard to see them losing.

Flyers and Capitals to do battle for 2019/20 WNBL title

GAME One at Dandenong Stadium cannot come quick enough as the teams who finished first and second on the ladder, UC Capitals and the Southside Flyers, finally square off in the 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final.

The Flyers’ captain Jenna O’Hea makes her anticipated return to the floor after breaking her wrist in early January. Only the Flyers staff know whether the – not only team captain but national captain – is ready to imprint her dominance over the next three games or if she has been rushed back too soon. While this will confuse the opposition’s coaching staff, the fact that she has been out for so long might muddle up the Flyers’ current chemistry. All will be revealed in the first game just like how Leilani Mitchell, the former championship point guard for the Capitals, now playing for the Flyers, will cope taking on her former teammates on the biggest stage. The Flyers look to make history in their attempt to win a grand final in only their first year, while the Capitals, who won two of the last three contests against the Flyers, are hoping to become back to back champions. With so much to be learned in the first game, only one thing is certain, this series will not disappoint.

The UC Capitals’ top-end talent as a strength but have had less depth cycle through at times, only playing seven players in their last game against Boomers, with five players playing over 30 minutes. The playoffs being extremely intense games from start to finish, with very little rest between games, is why depth is so crucial. Not only so that players can perform well, but on a more serious note, not get injured. The Capitals struggled to shoot from three, maybe a factor of their tiredness, so do not be surprised if the Flyers run a zone, possibly in the second half, to force the worn out Capitals to test their luck from long range, something they are not very confident in doing as they are dead last in three-point percentage. Then when the Flyers have possession, run fast paced transition offence, keeping the Capitals always on the move. A thrilling back and forth to look out for will be between dynamic French point guard Olivia Epoupa, up against former Capitals star, Mitchell. Some are speculating that going up against all these familiar faces might throw Mitchell off her game, considering it is a grand final. However judging from her last performance against the Capitals, where she led her team in assists and was second in scoring, she looks like she will be just fine.

The one time this season the Capitals lost to the Flyers was because of mediocre free-throw shooting. If they shoot poorly from the free throw line again, they can lose again. Being that it is more than common that players shoot less accurately from the line in a grand final, this is something the Capitals must address, though the mere presence of the 2019 finals MVP, Kelsey Griffith on your side may calm some nerves. The Capitals were able to secure the victory in their last matchup from an incredible amount of points from turnovers, a fact that the Flyers are surely aware of. However the difference between a grand final and a regular season match is massive, the stakes are increased, the intensity is increased and hence the clumsy mistakes are increased. Conversely, having a point guard in Epoupa, playing in the biggest game of her entire career, might lead to some blunders for the Capitals, especially early in the game. The Capitals are going to try and do what they do best which is attack the paint with their bigs like Griffith and Marianna Tolo. Tolo will be up for a real challenge as she will be facing Defensive Player of the Year Mercedes Russell in what will certainly be an epic clash, however the veteran Tolo is coming off a fiery game leading her team in scoring with 20 and 12 of which came in just the third quarter last match.

Considering the Capitals have had a decent amount of rest, even with travelling all the way from Cairns, it could just tip them to secure game one. Most of the team is experienced, as they not only went to the grand final last year but won it, and that type of previous exposure to playing in big games always plays a huge factor early in a series. In reality, this could go down either way, as the Flyers might just have a secret, well-rested weapon in O’Hea, ready to explode on an unsettled defence at home. Anticipate this game to go straight down to the wire.

WNBL Semi-final 2 review: Flyers snatch three point victory to move through to grand final

THE Southside Flyers are the first side through to the 2020 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final with the winner from the battle between Melbourne Boomers and UC Capitals set to meet them.

Adelaide Lightning (79) defeated Southside Flyers (82)

IN their inaugural season, the Southside Flyers have made it through to their first WNBL grand final downing hosts Adelaide by yet another mere three points. It was a thrilling game of basketball with both teams leaving nothing to chance. Southside got the early ascendancy piling on 25 points to 17 in the second quarter before the Lightning struck back in the third to reduce the deficit but despite their best efforts they fell agonisingly short once again.  The Lightning threw everything they had at them knowing full well it was do-or-die but the Flyers were simply too good outclassing their opponents credit to their even contributions across the board with five players making it into double digits.

Southside showed an extra layer of class with its accuracy from beyond the arc sitting at 48 per cent as opposed to the Lightning who only managed 35 per cent. Although Adelaide secured more rebounds mainly thanks to Brianna Turner (45-42), the Flyers’ work defensively to pick pocket their opponents was a key difference recording 10 steals to seven. Statistically speaking it is hard to separate the sides with accuracy sitting at a similar percentage for both sides but it was the Flyers ability to stand up under pressure that eventually got them over the line.

The Southside Flyers had a point to prove- that they could knock off their rivals away from home and they proved that in style. It was a complete performance from the travelling team with Rebecca Cole taking the reins and dominating the points scoring stats with 19 to her name along with 10 rebounds to record another double-double for the season. Leilani Mitchell also proved hard to stop knocking back 18 points of her own and drawing even with teammate Aimie Clydesdale who also managed 18 points. Mitchell fell just short of a double-double racking up nine assists highlighting her impressive vision and strong attacking sense. Despite being down on her usual output Mercedes Russell still made her presence felt with 15 points, four rebounds and three assists, while Sara Blicavs played a strong support role with her 12 points to get her side over the line and into the big dance.

Lightning’s Brianna Turner starred in the clash with the American import doing all she could to keep side within reach of the Flyers. Turner shone from the get go recording a game-high 25 points and mind-boggling 18 rebounds, 15 of which were defensive. But it did not stop there with Turner also managing four blocks showcasing her impressive ability to switch between attack and defence with ease. The forward led the way for the Lightning with Stephanie Talbot failing to have much of an impact on the scoreboard with nine points but racked up nine rebounds and eight assists. Nicole Seekamp also struggled to get going in her sides loss while Lauren Nicholson and Kathryn Westbeld showed their scoring prowess with 16 and 18 points respectively. But unfortunately, the Lightning could not find their mojo in either attack or defence notching up their second straight loss to the ladder leaders and their ultimate dismissal from finals.