Tag: rebecca cole

2019/20 WNBL weekend preview: Round 9 – Top three clash to end round on a high

A MASSIVE clash between Southside Flyers and University of Canberra Capitals on Sunday caps off a split round of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action which sees the Flyers and Townsville Fire open the round on Friday night, then back up with second games. Plenty is on the line in the other games between Adelaide Lightning and Bendigo Spirit, and Perth Lynx and Melbourne Boomers.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS v. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Friday, December 13, 7.30pm
Dandenong Stadium

In the opening game of the round, top of the table Southside Flyers host bottom two side, Townsville Fire at Dandenong. The Fire leapt off the bottom of the table last round following a nice win over the now cellar dwellers, Bendigo Spirit by 14 points. The Fire had won just one of the eight games prior to that victory, and still remain with just two wins from nine games – the complete opposite to Southside enjoying a four-game winning streak for 10-1 ladder leaders. The matchup will be the third time these sides have clashed this year, and the Flyers have unsurprisingly won both, winning by nine points in Round 1 over the Fire, before completely taking control in the second game on November 23, scoring 91-59. Mercedes Russell will once again be a key player in the center for Southside, averaging 16.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and likely to be the difference on court. Leilani Mitchell (16.2 points and 6.0 assists) and Rebecca Cole (15.9 points and 3.8 assists) have been important in the guard positions for the favourites, while Townsville has had some strong individual performances from its forwards. Abby Bishop has been the shining light in season 2019/20 for the Fire, averaging 18.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Darcee Garbin is coming off an impressive performance last week and will be hoping to add to her 12.7 points and 5.8 rebounds per game, and help Townsville cause a huge upset. Both these teams play a second game in Round 9 on Sunday in different states, so management will be key.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING v. BENDIGO SPIRIT
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Titanium Security Arena

Heading west to South Australia, the fourth placed Adelaide Lightning are narrowly clinging to a finals position at this point of the season, just one and a half games clear of Sydney Uni, and two and a half games clear of Perth and Townsville. Whilst it may seem comfortable, Adelaide is three games away from the top three, and had a couple more losses than any of the sides about it. Having left the door to the top four ajar with a loss to Sydney Uni last week, Adelaide must simply rebound with a victory at home against this season’s cellar dwellers. Bendigo dropped to the bottom of the table with a sixth consecutive loss last weekend, going down to previous ladder carriers, Townsville. With the equal most games played in the league at 11, Bendigo must find a way to flick the switch and make a run from this point, with its season on life support if a change does not happen soon. The positive for Bendigo is that one of its wins did come against Adelaide, getting up by 13 points earlier in the season, before going down by 28 points in a forgettable performance on the road. Stephanie Talbot has been a consistent player for the Lightning this year, posting up 16.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game, sharing the load off the boards with Brianna Turner (14.8 points, 9.9 rebounds). Lauren Nicholson (15.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists) has also been prominent as expected, while the introduction of Kathryn Westbeld (11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds) over the past three games has helped. The Spirit have one of the most even teams across the board, with no one standout player. Their highest scorer is Tessa Lavey, averaging just 10.7 points, as well as 3.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Kelly Wilson (9.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.4 assists) and Rebecca Tobin (8.3 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2,0 assists) are others who have had some seriously dominant moments, but it is just piecing it all together.

PERTH LYNX v. MELBOURNE BOOMERS
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Bendat Basketball Stadium

Continuing the trip west down the highway, Perth Lynx host Melbourne Boomers in Western Australia with last year’s finalists season slowly slipping away. The Lynx have to see this as a must-win, losing their past four games and winning just three from 11 to sit two and a half games adrift of fourth spot. The good news for Perth is, two of its wins have come at home, though it has hardly been a fortress, dropping three games at the same time. For the Boomers, the road trip holds no fears, recording four wins from five games when travelling and they only have to look to last week for form when Melbourne got up over Perth by nine points at the State Basketball Centre. The last time these two sides played in Perth was last season, when the Lynx got up by 14 points. Alison Schwagmeyer has been superb for the Lynx this year, averaging 16.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, teaming up well with fellow Americans Imani McGee-Stafford (13.8 points, 9.6 rebounds) and Ariel Atkins (9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds) when they played. Katie-Rae Ebzery has also been a reliable option at the guard position, averaging 14.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season. The Boomers have had plenty of contributors across the list, with Cayla George being enormous as one of the bigs, averaging 14.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. Lindsay Allen (16.8 points, 3.4 rebounds and 5.5 assists) and Madeleine Garrick (12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists) are others

TOWNSVILLE FIRE v. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Sunday, December 15, 1pm
Townsville Stadium

In what will be Townsville’s second game of the round, the Fire will be hoping to burn brighter and faster than their opponents when Sydney Uni Flames come to town. Back-to-back wins for Townsville will be crucial in keeping the faint hope of finals alive, but it will be a tough ask given Sydney Uni have a top four spot on the line with a win. The points difference is too great to immediately leapfrog Adelaide Lightning into a finals position, but the Flames will need to win to keep touch with the top four given the Lightning also play the bottom of the table Bendigo Spirit. These two sides have only clashed the once thus far in season 2019/20 with Sydney Uni getting up by nine points at home on November 7. Last season when the Flames finished on the bottom, Townsville won all three head-to-head encounters and will hope to channel that energy for this game. Aside from Bishop’s impact and Garbin’s recent form, Tess Madgen (11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.8 assists) and Bridget Carleton (10.9 points, 5.1 rebounds) are the other two Fire players who average double-figure points this season. For the Flames, Alice Kunek averages a team-high 17.9 points per game as well as 4.1 rebounds and 3.5 assists. Colleen Planeta‘s best is as good as anyone else in the competition with the American posting up 16.4 points and 7.4 rebounds, slightly more than American teammate, Jessica Kuster. The forward has sank 12.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game, but has shot at a deadly 60.2 per cent from the field. Sydney Uni will be favourites in this game, but Townsville has its season on the line in this clash.

UC CAPITALS v. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Sunday, December 15, 5pm
National Convention Centre (Canberra)

The best game has been saved until last with third placed University of Canberra (UC) Capitals hosting top of the table Southside Flyers in the nation’s capital on Sunday evening. The Capitals are the only side to have penetrated the otherwise unflappable defence of the Flyers, winning 91-72 on the road in one of the performances of the year. It gives the Capitals great confidence coming into this clash now they return home, while for Southside, there is perhaps further motivation on top of getting the win by levelling the two teams head-to-head for this season. The Capitals’ starting five is superb, and with the success that has come, they have started blooding some youngsters as well. Kia Nurse (21.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists) is the key scorer, while Kelsey Griffin (17.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 2.3 steals) is once again a Most Valuable Player (MVP) contender. Olivia Epoupa (8.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3.2 steals) is not a huge scorer but just contributes across all areas, while Gemma Potter has come off the bench every week gaining valuable minutes for future development. A couple of others for the Flyers who have been important up the forward end are Sara Blicavs (14.9 points, 6.6 rebounds) and Jenna O’Hea (14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists) rounding out a strong starting five with Russell, Mitchell and Cole, even with the bulk of the scoring only come from those players. The Capitals depth might see them turn the tables on Southside, and have a six-game winning streak themselves, but one thing is for sure, this game is going to be a cracker.

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

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

Bendigo Spirit vs University of Canberra Capitals

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

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

Adelaide Lighting vs Perth Lynx

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

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

Southside Flyers vs Melbourne Boomers

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

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

Sydney Uni Flames vs Adelaide Lighting

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

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

Townsville Fire v. Bendigo Spirit

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

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

Melbourne Boomers v. Perth Lynx

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

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

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 7

THEY have had differing formlines of late and even this season, but Southside Flyers, Melbourne Boomers and Bendigo Spirit finished the weekend with a couple of players in our Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Team of the Week. In what was another difficult week to narrow down the players to just 10, every other team had at least one nominee with the exception of cellar dwellers Townsville Fire who missed out on a nominee this round.

Bendigo’s duo of Tessa Lavey and Rebecca Tobin both made the starting line-up, with Lavey sinking 16 points, five rebounds, 11 assists and two steals, while Tobin was instrumental in center with 8 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and three blocks. Tobin won the stating spot over Mercedes Russell with the Flyers’ center also impressing with a double-double average. Russell was joined on the bench by teammate, Jenna O’Hea.

Melbourne Boomers’ duo Madeleine Garrick and Cayla George also made the starting side, with Garrick a standout guard over the round, posting 26 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals, while George was named as a forward this week with five points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and four blocks. Rounding out the starting side was Team of the Week regular, Kelsey Griffin who had 27 points, seven rebounds, two steals, one assist and one block over the weekend.

Perth Lynx’s Katie-Rae Ebzery and Adelaide Lightning’s Lauren Nicholson fill out the bench guard spots for Round 7, while forward, Jessica Kuster has been named in the side. They were far from the only contenders however, with a trio of Flyers (Rebecca Cole, Leilani Mitchell and Sara Blicavs), a duo from Sydney Uni Flames (Alex Wilson and Alice Kunek), a duo from Townsville Fire (Julie Vanloo and Abby Bishop), UC Capitals’ Kia Nurse and Adelaide’s Stephanie Talbot.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Madeleine Garrick (MB) – 26 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 0 blocks, 56.3 FG%
G: Tessa Lavey (BS) – 16 points, 5 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 36.8 FG%
C: Rebecca Tobin (BS) – 8 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals, 3 blocks, 40.0 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) – 27 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 1 block, 73.3 FG%
F: Cayla George (MB) – 5 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 16.7 FG%

BENCH:

G; Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL) – 14 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 33.3 FG%
G: Lauren Nicholson (AD) – 13 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 0 steals, 0 blocks, 38.5 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 20.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 3.0 steals, 2.0 blocks, 53.8 FG%
F: Jessica Kuster (SU) – 19.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.5 blocks, 76.5 FG%
F: Jenna O’Hea (SF) – 10.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 0.5 steals, 1.0 blocks, 37.0 FG%

WNBL Round 7 review: Southside go two games clear as Capitals earn fifth straight win

THE ladder leading Flyers came away from a successful road trip with big wins against Perth and Adelaide, while the Boomers made sure to get a win against Sydney Uni to keep in touch with Southside in their pursuit of the top spot. Whereas, the Caps extended their winning streak to five in their clash against the Flames and the Spirit dropped their fourth consecutive game.

Bendigo Spirit (75) defeated by Sydney Uni Flames (80)

The Sydney Uni Flames kicked off their double-header weekend in Bendigo with a hard-fought five-point win over the struggling Spirit. While the Flames have also been struggling to climb the ladder this season, Sydney Uni were able to come away with their third win of the season. Four of the top five scorers for the game wore Flames jerseys led by Jessica Kuster who tallied 23 points, 11 rebounds and a couple of blocks. Aiding her was Alice Kunek and Colleen Planeta who finished their games with 15 and 17 points respectively, but the title of main facilitator fell on the shoulders of Alex Wilson who put up 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds. For the Spirit, scoring performances could be found across the team, but the totals put up were nothing to speak too highly of. Bendigo who shot at a sub-par 37.0 percent from the field, only had one player who scored at least 15 points, that being Tessa Lavey who scrambled for her 16 points and 11 assists. The five-point win for the Flames would start their weekend off well leading into their second game against the Melbourne Boomers on Saturday. The loss for the Spirit extends their losing skid to four games slotting them in seventh spot.

DC Medal: 3 – Jessica Kuster (SU), 2 – Tessa Lavey (BS), 1 – Alex Wilson (SU)

Perth Lynx (68) defeated by Southside Flyers (82)

The Southside Flyers continued their stellar form this season, earning their eighth win from nine games after defeating Perth by 14 points. Perth’s bench was able to make a considerable impact as they outscored the Flyers’ secondary unit 30-8, but Southside’s efficiency from the free-throw line (83 percent) and the field (45.6 percent) was enough to counteract the play of the Lynx. Rebecca Cole led the charge for the Flyers with 21 points, three dimes and four rebounds. Other scoring contributors for Southside included Mercedes Russell (16 points), Leilani Mitchell (15) and Jenna O’Hea (13). Alison Schwagmeyer led the points scoring for the Lynx with 16 along with five rebounds. Additionally, Katie Ebzery stood up throughout the match coming away with 14 points, four assists and eight rebounds. The win for the Flyers was the first of both their impressive performances over the weekend, preceding their clash with Adelaide on the trek back home. Whereas, Perth’s loss continues their average form this season signified by their 3-6 record thus far, placing them in fifth position.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL), 1 – Rebecca Cole (SF)

UC Capitals (87) defeated Townsville Fire (78)

A sizeable winning streak is rolling for the UC Capitals as their win against the bottom of the table Townsville Fire continued their winning run of form to five games. On paper the teams were very similar in offence and defence finishing with 35 rebounds. But what the Fire lacked in points around the basket, they made up for in second chance opportunities. The main difference in the game was accuracy, as the Capitals managed to shoot the ball at a 54 percent clip compared to Townsville’s 44 percent. The Caps, led by Kia Nurse and her 24 points, as well as Kelsey Griffin and her 27, knocked six three-pointers in as they were decisive in their victory against a poor shooting Fire outfit. For the Fire, Abby Bishop and Julie Vanloo combined for 43 of Townsville’s 78 points, as well as seven threes between the duo, but the lack of depth in the Fire’s lineup proved to be the downfall for the club that now sits on the bottom of the standings with a 1-7 record. The win for the Capitals ties them in second position with the Melbourne Boomers, who is also on a winning run at the moment.

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

Melbourne Boomers (94) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (81)

Sydney Uni who were hot on the back of their victory against Bendigo on Friday night came into Melbourne looking to steal two Victorian wins in the span of a couple of days, which is something not many teams have done so far this season. The Boomers who have been a deadly opponent so far this season showcased why in the contest. Good ball movement led to high assist totals for the Boomers with 24 for the game compared to Sydney’s 17. In addition, a culmination of points from second chance, points off of turnovers and fast break opportunities for the home team, gave Melbourne the extra ammunition needed to secure the 12-point victory against a solid Flames outfit.  An impressive outing for Madeleine Garrick, who led the Boomers in scoring and three-pointers with 26 points and six bombs from behind the arch. Cayla George was also impressive across all non-scoring statistics with 14 rebounds and eight assists along with four blocks. In addition, young gun Ezi Magbegor notched up 20 points and five rebounds. For the Flames, Kunek was again on target as she pulled out 24 points with five rebounds. The win for the Boomers puts them two wins behind Southside, while extending their winning streak to three games. The Flames slide to sixth.

DC Medal: 3 – Madeleine Garrick (MB), 2 – Cayla George (MB), 1 – Alice Kunek (SU)

Adelaide Lightning (85) defeated by Southside Flyers (91)

Down in Adelaide, the Southside Flyers extended their dominant run so far this season, after edging out the Lightning on their home floor and rounding out a successful double header weekend. The Flyers relied entirely on their starting five to get the job done, with no bench players scoring a single point. At the forefront of the scoring load was Russell, who finished her night with 24 points and 14 rebounds, capping off a spectacular individual weekend. Along with Russell, Sara Blicavs managed to grab a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds through 30 minutes of game-time. Whereas, Adelaide’s Stephanie Talbot tallied 25 points and eight rebounds along with a couple of assists in her efforts to keep the Lightning within striking distance. Lauren Nicholson, made her presence known recording a solid 13 points, five assists and seven rebounds for the home side, but ultimately the Lightning could not claw their way back, as the Flyers obtained their ninth win of the season and put the gap between themselves and the second placed Melbourne Boomers to two games. The Lightning from the loss fell back to .500, now sitting on four wins and four losses.

DC Medal: 3 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 2 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 1 – Sarah Blicavs (SF)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

20 – Mercedes Russell (SF)
19 – Kelsey Griffin (UC)
18 –
17 – Cayla George (MB)
16 –
15 –
14 –
13 – Lindsay Allen (MB)
12 –
11 –
10 – Brianna Turner (AL), Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), Katie-Rae Ebzery (PL)
9 –
8 – Kia Nurse (UC), Abby Bishop (TF), Stephanie Talbot (AL),
7 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), Colleen Planeta (AD), Jenna O’Hea (SF)
6 – Keely Froling (UC), Madeleine Garrick (MB),  Alice Kunek (SU)
5 – Tahlia Tupaea (SU), Olivia Epoupa (UC)
4 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), Kelly Wilson (BS), Jessica Kuster (SU), Sara Blicavs (SF)
3 – Carley Ernst (BS), Rebecca Tobin (BS), Rebecca Cole (SF)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Micaela Cocks (TF), Chelsea Brook (AD), Ezi Magbegor (MB), Lauren Mansfield (PL), Tessa Lavey (BS)
1 – Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Nicole Seekamp (AL), Tess Madgen (TF), Ariel Atkins (PL), Alex Wilson (SU)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019/20 WNBL Team of the Week: Round 6

EIGHT of the 10 players in our Draft Central Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Team of the Week are from the top three sides, showing their dominance across the weekend. University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Southside Flyers both recorded three players in the Team of the Week, while Melbourne Boomers had two. Perth Lynx and Sydney Uni Flames rounded out the team with a player each in the side, as Adelaide Lightning, Bendigo Spirit and Townsville Fire missed out on having a player in this week’s team.

It was highly competitive for spots in the Round 6 team, as UC Capitals’ duo Kelsey Griffin (19 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two blocks and one steal) and Kia Nurse (18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and one steal) both made the starting side. Marianna Tolo also made the team on the bench after her 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal and three blocks in the center position. Southside Flyers had a couple of starters in the team as well, with Mercedes Russell taking that center spot once again thanks to 17 points, nine rebounds, two assists and one block, shooting at an impressive 77.8 per cent from the field. She was joined in the team by Sara Blicavs who starts in the forward half after 12 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Rebecca Cole slots onto the bench.

Melbourne Boomers had two players make the team, albeit on the bench. Ezi Magbegor and Lindsay Allen were both named in the forward spots after a couple of impressive performances over two games. To round out the starting side, Alison Schwagmeyer was once again a shining light for Perth Lynx, sinking 22 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and one steal across two matches. The final member of the 10-player team was Sydney Uni Flames’ Alex Wilson who filled out the second guard spot on the bench.

With so many incredible individual performances over the weekend, it was hard to split some players, with Adelaide’s Brianna Turner, Townsville’s Abby Bishop and Bendigo’s Rebecca Tobin all unlucky not to be a representative in the team. Others who impressed but just missed out on selection were Perth’s Lauren Mansfield, Southside’s Leilani Mitchell and Jenna O’Hea, Sydney Uni’s Colleen Planeta and Lauren Scherf, along with Melbourne’s Cayla George.

STARTING FIVE:

G: Alison Schwagmeyer (PL) – 22.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.0 blocks, 57.6 FG%
G: Kia Nurse (UC) – 18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 0 blocks, 36.8 FG%
C: Mercedes Russell (SF) – 17 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 0 steals, 1 block, 77.8 FG%
F: Kelsey Griffin (UC) – 19 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 46.7 FG%
F: Sara Blicavs (SF) – 12 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 50.0 FG%

BENCH:

G: Rebecca Cole (SF) – 20 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 0 blocks, 60.0 FG%
G: Alex Wilson (SU) – 16 points, 3 rebounds, 9 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 41.7 FG%
C: Marianna Tolo (UC) – 12 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 3 blocks, 44.4 FG%
F: Ezi Magbegor (MB) – 11.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.5 blocks, 47.6 FG%
F: Lindsay Allen (MB) – 18.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.0 blocks, 46.7 FG%

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.

2019/20 WNBL preview: Round 5 – Thursday night action on the east coast

THE University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Sydney Uni Flames do the double over Round 5, with just the two matchdays tonight and Saturday for five games. The teams then have a break for a week, before recommencing on Friday, November 22 with Round 6 tipping off. In this part we focus on the first two games of the round happening tonight.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Thursday, November 7, 7.00pm
Bryden’s Stadium

Townsville Fire was able to finally break through for a win, leapfrogging their opponents this round in doing so. In a battle of the bottom two sides in the WNBL, Townsville has had the upperhand in recent times, winning all three games between the teams in the 2018/19 season. Yet to face-off in 2019/20, the Flames host the first match between the pair, and will be hoping to find the form that saw them upset UC Capitals in Round 3. Townsville did what few can and knocked off Perth over in Western Australia, though the Lynx have been out of form of late and remain anchored in the bottom three with these sides. The Fire have predominantly relied on Abby Bishop for points, becoming one of the more damaging forwards in the league, posting up 21.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, as well as 2.8 assists and 2.0 steals. She is ranked first in her side across every statistical area with the exception of assists, where Tess Madgen (3.6) ranks higher. Madgen has been a valuable player for the Fire as well, averaging 13 points and six rebounds per game. Bridget Carleton and Darcee Garbin have started every game and combined for 21 points and 11 rebounds per game. For the Flames, they have some spread talent across the starting five, with Alice Kunek (17.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists) and Colleen Planeta (14.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks) have been the standout performers, though Lauren Scherf (9.8 rebounds) and Jessica Kuster (6.2 rebounds and 10.0 points) work off the boards has been impressive. At home, Sydney Uni will feel confident in victory, though Townsville will go in as favourites given their impressive win last round.

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS vs. UC CAPITALS
Thursday, November 7, 7.30pm
Dandenong Stadium

In the first of two top four clashes for the Capitals, they travel for a weekend in Victoria to face the Flyers and Boomers back-to-back over three days. The first clash takes place on Thursday evening, with the undefeated Southside now two wins and four points clear on top. Mercedes Russell is the recruit of the year for the WNBL so far, sinking 15.7 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. With the starting five all averaging over 14 points per game, the firepower within the team is amazing. Rebecca Cole (15.3 points, 3.5 blocks and 4.0 assists), Sara Blicavs (15.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals), Jenna O’Hea (15.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.3 steals) and Leilani Mitchell (14.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.7 steals) are all valuable players who have provided consistency to the line-up having set-up the same every week. For the Capitals, they have three key scorers this season with last year’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kelsey Griffin averaging a double double of 17.2 points and 11.4 rebounds, as well as 3.0 assists and 2.0 steals. Keely Froling has been superb this season with 17.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.2 blocks, while Kia Nurse has stood tall to back up her work from last season, averaging a team-high 19.8 points. Olivia Epoupa has also been a key addition to the team, while only averaging the 8.4 points, her work up both ends of 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists has been crucial in setting her teammates up. This is set to be a thriller, with Southside clear favourites, but you can never underestimate the work of the Capitals’ top-end when it comes to crunch time and the reigning premiers will be ready for the clash. It also marks the first time Mitchell will face her old side, which will be an interesting facet of the Thursday night battle.

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%