Tag: Steph Blicavs

2021 NBL1 South Women’s wrap: Round 3

THREE teams remain undefeated after Round 3 of the National Basketball League (NBL)1 South women’s competition, as Frankston Blues (4-0), Knox Raiders (3-0) and Eltham Wildcats (3-0) stand tall amongst the rest of the competition.

Geelong Supercats (92) def. Waverley Falcons (49)

Geelong Supercats have dominated Waverley Falcons by 43 points in a one-sided affair to open the round. The home team raced out to a 10-point lead at quarter time, and then closed down the opposition’s scoring, capped off with a 29-8 third quarter. A 20-14 final term saw the Supercats finish full of steam as well, winning 92-49. Steph Blicavs dominated with 26 points – four of five from long-range – four assists, three rebounds and two steals, while Aimie Clydesdale hit five of 10 from three-point range to finish with 21 points, as well as four rebounds and four assists, while Sarah Elsworthy (17 points, five assists and three rebounds) and Rebekah O’Donnell (11 points, seven rebounds) also stood tall. Renae Mokrzycki (13 points, three rebounds and two assists), Meg Crupi (12 points) and Nyakoang Lok (11 points, five rebounds and two steals) were the double-figure points scorers for the Falcons in the heavy loss.

Frankston Blues (90) def. Launceston Tornadoes (84)

The battle of the undefeated sides lived up to expectations with Frankston Blues triumphing over Launceston Tornadoes by just six points in a thrilling contest. It was a tale of two halves as the home team raced away to pile on 52 points to 38 in the opening half and lead by 14. Launceston hit back in the second half, but could only claw back eight of those 14 points, to go down 90-84. Despite Tessa Lavey having an uncharacteristically poor day shooting (two of 15 from the field and none of nine from long-range for seven points), the dual sport star had 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals to still contribute to the team’s success. Darcee Garbin (23 points, 11 rebounds and three assists) and Ella Batish (20 points, five rebounds, three steals and two assists) picked up the slack, while Taylah Giliam (16 points, three rebounds) and Samara Hill (12 points, two assists) also stood tall. For the Tornadoes, it was the triple threat that did all the damage to try and keep the side in it, as Keely Froling (30 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) and Kelsey Griffin (14 points, 10 rebounds and two assists) picked up double-doubles, and Mariah Payne finished with 28 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

Knox Raiders (111) def. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (38)

The bloodbath of the round well and truly went to Knox Raiders, who showed no mercy in a dominating 73-point shellacking of Albury-Wodonga Bandits. The Raiders never looked like losing with a 67-21 opening half, and then kept the Bandits to as low as seven points in the final term, running out 111-38 victors. Marianna Tolo had a night out with 25 points, 11 rebounds and three assists, while Klara Wischer also picked up a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds. Kara Tessari (18 points, four assists and three rebounds), Kiera Rowe (17 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Leah Santomaggio (13 points, four rebounds and three assists) were others who hit double-figure points for the Raiders. Emma Mahady knocked down 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals in a lone-hand for the Bandits, scoring more than half of the team’s points.

Ballarat Rush (67) def. by Bendigo Braves (74)

Bendigo Braves have come away with an important win on the road against Ballarat Rush, facing a 13-point half-time deficit but turning it around with a dominant second half. The Braves trailed 46-33 at the main break, but then kept the Rush to just 21 points after that, whilst they piled on 41 to secure the narrow seven-point win, 74-67. Tess Madgen led the way, picking up an almost triple-double of 18 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while Kate Oliver (18 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals), Cassidy McLean (12 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two assists) and Piper Dunlop (eight points, seven rebounds and two assists) all shone in the win. For the Rush, Alicia Froling was unstoppable off the boards with 16 rebounds – seven offensive – to go with 14 points, two assists and two blocks, while Kasey Burton (15 points, seven rebounds and two assists) and Kristy Rinaldi (15 points, five rebounds and three steals) also contributed strongly.

Diamond Valley Eagles (48) def. by Melbourne Tigers (93)

Diamond Valley Eagles’ winless start to the season continued, going down to Melbourne Tigers by 45 points, while the Tigers strung together back-to-back wins. Melbourne won every quarter, getting out to a 25-point lead at half-time to all but seal the deal, then won the second half by 20 points as well to run out 93-48 winners. Isabella Brancatisano (23 points, 12 rebounds and six assists) and Zitina Aokuso (10 points, 13 rebounds and two assists) both racked up double-doubles, as Monique Conti came close to a remarkable quadruple-double of 23 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and seven steals as a clear best on court. Gemma Simon helped out with 19 points in the Tigers’ win. For the Eagles, Sophie Burrows scored a team-high 12 points to go with six rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Olivia Bontempelli (10 points five rebounds, four steals and three assists) and Ivana Vasiljevic (10 points, three rebounds) also reached double-figure points.

Eltham Wildcats (87) def. Nunawading Spectres (74)

Eltham Wildcats remained undefeated from three games with a solid 13-point victory over Nunawading Spectres at home. The Wildcats raced out to a 14-point lead at half-time, and built it up to as much as 20 points by the final break, before the Spectres fought it out in the final term to cut the deficit back, but fell short of victory as the home team triumphed, 87-74. Lily Scanlon (24 points, six rebounds and two assists) scored the most points, but Anneli Maley‘s unbelievable season off the boards continued with 19 rebounds – 13 defensive – to go with 15 points. Tess Heal (14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals), Rebecca Pizzey (13 points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) and Shelby Britten (10 points, seven assists, two rebounds and two steals) also hit double-figure points in the win. Penina Davidson was a standout for the Spectres in defeat, picking up 20 points, eight rebounds, five steals and two assists, while Rachel Antoniadou (17 points, nine assists and two rebounds) and Rachel Brewster (16 points, five assists, three rebounds and two blocks).

Kilsyth Cobras (75) def. Hobart Chargers (73)

Hobart Chargers fell short of their first victory against Kilsyth Cobras, following a spirited four-quarter effort. The Cobras led by four points at the first break, with the teams tied by half-time. Another strong term from Kilsyth saw them extend the lead out to four again, before the Chargers hit back in the fourth, to even hit the front with 2:24 on the clock, but the Cobras managed to steady and take home the win, 75-73. Lauren Scherf (12 points, 15 rebounds and four assists) and Abigail Curtin (14 points, seven rebounds) were influential, as Briahna Whatman (nine points, 11 rebounds and six assists) came close to a double-double, and Nikita Young (13 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals) was also handy. Madeleine Garrick was the star for the Chargers, not far off a triple-double of 26 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and four steals, while Tayla Roberts (13 points, nine rebounds) and Kylie McCauley (13 points, nine rebounds and five assists), Sharna Roberts (11 points, five rebounds) and Ellie Collins (10 points, eight rebounds) did all the scoring in a losing team.

Mt Gambier Pioneers (45) def. by Ringwood Hawks (89)

A four-quarter performance capped off by a rampant final term put an exclamation mark on the Ringwood Hawks’ victory against Mt Gambier Pioneers. In the Pioneers first game in South Australia this year, they were up against some stiff opposition and the Hawks came to play, leading by 17 points at the final break. No one would have seen the last quarter coming, as Ringwood piled on 35 points to eight in a one-way domination to blow out the final margin to 44 points, 89-45. Funda Nakkasoglu hit a match-high 26 points, as well as five rebounds and three assists, while Marena Whittle (20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, four steals and four blocks) and Demi Skinner (18 points, nine rebounds) were also impressive. For the Pioneers, Hannah Young was the standout thanks to 11 points and nine rebounds, while Shakera Reilly (10 points, four rebounds and two assists) and Jasmin Howe (nine points, five rebounds and two assists) were others who stood out for the losers.

Bendigo Braves (84) def. Dandenong Rangers (56)

After a win on the road against Ballarat Rush, Bendigo Braves made it back-to-back victories in Round 3 thanks to a 28-point triumph over Dandenong Rangers. The Braves won all four quarters, scoring at least 17 points in every quarter, and keeping the Rangers to 15 or less in three of the four terms to win, 84-56. Madgen feasted on the Rangers with an almost triple-double effort of 43 points – including seven of 13 from long-range – nine rebounds and eight assists, while Oliver (18 points, 14 rebounds) picked up a double-double, and Abigail Wehrung (15 points, six rebounds and five assists) was also impressive across the night. For the Rangers, Dallas Loughbridge scored 17 points, five steals and three assists, stepping up with Emilee Harmon (15 points, seven rebounds) and Tenaya Sooalo (14 points, three steals and two rebounds) also having a helping hand despite the loss.

Waverley Falcons (93) def. Albury-Wodonga Bandits (64)

Another team that made it back-to-back wins for Round 3, whilst also sentencing a league battler to yet another loss were Waverley Falcons, who took care of Albury-Wodonga Bandits by 29 points. The Falcons dominated the first half to race out to a 24-point lead at the main break, though credit to the Bandits who hit back in the third term to cut it to 15 points at the last change and give themselves a sniff. The Falcons quickly got back on top with a 24-10 final quarter and ran out 93-64 winners. Anna Bandilovska (29 points, two rebounds) was the highest points scorer, though Mokrzycki racked up 28 points, 17 rebounds and Kelly Bowen had 17 points, 11 rebounds and three assists in double-double efforts. Mahady was again the key scorer with 20 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and three assists, though she had some support in this match thanks to Charlotte Beavan‘s 16 points and three rebounds – with five of nine triples – and Brodie-Paige Theodore‘s 12 points – nine from the free-throw line – four rebounds and two assists.

Melbourne Tigers (109) def. Hobart Chargers (87)

Melbourne Tigers made it three consecutive wins, and handed Hobart Chargers an 0-4 start to the season with a 22-point victory at home. The Tigers were surprisingly sluggish to start the match and conceded 34 points in the first term to trail by 12 at quarter time, but then stepped up to completely dominate the game and score 87-53 and run out 109-87 winners. Conti had another massive performance of 40 points – eight of 12 from long-range – seven rebounds, seven assists and four steals, while Brancatisano (23 points – five of 11 from long-range – four rebounds and four assists) and Aokuso (19 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, three steals and two blocks in a triple-double effort) all dominated. Collins stepped up with 25 points, six rebounds and three assists in the loss, while Garrick (19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals), Tayla Roberts (15 points, six rebounds) and Thompson (13 points, three rebounds) were also lively.

Sandringham Sabres (67) def. by Launceston Tornadoes (100)

Closing out the weekend was Launceston Tornadoes bouncing back from their first loss of the season against Frankston Blues, to easily win 100-67 against Sandringham Sabres. The Tornadoes won every quarter by at least eight points in a dominant effort to secure the 33-point victory. Froling had an unbelievable performance of 37 points, 13 rebounds and four steals, one of three players to reach double-doubles, as Griffin (20 points, 12 rebounds three assists and two steals) and Payne (20 points, 12 rebounds and four assists) achieved the feat, while Teyla Evans managed the 13 points and four rebounds. Playing their first game of the round, the Sabres’ Amy O’Neill finished with a team-high 20 points, as well as eight assists, five rebounds and three steals. She was complemented by Jenna O’Hea (10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals) and Cassandra Hill (11 points, two rebounds and two assists) in the loss.

Picture credit: Ian Knight Photography

Flames survive second term scare from Spirit

SYDNEY Uni Flames survived a forgettable second term to put away the winless Bendigo Spirit in the first of four games on a Super Sunday of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) action. The Flames started strongly, but found themselves down at half-time against a spirited Bendigo outfit, though they steadied in the second half to run away with an eight-point win, 62-54.

The Flames lit up the court in the opening quarter, racing to a 23-14 lead at quarter time. Though they were expected to get the job done, it was an impressive start to the game, but Bendigo was not to fade away easily. The Spirit picked up in the second quarter to pile on 19 points to eight and actually take the lead by two heading into the main break. The penultimate quarter turned into a low-scoring slog with just total 18 points scored – less than Sydney Uni in the first term and Bendigo in the second – with the Flames levelling the match at 41-apiece.

The Flames bolted out of the gates early in the final term to pile on 13 points to three in the opening six-and-a-half minutes of play. They were firmly in control leading 54-44, though the damaging duo of Carley Ernst and Tessa Lavey refused to give in, cutting the deficit to two plays after back-to-back jumpers. The Flames steadied, and whilst Lavey hit another triple with 38 seconds left on the clock to cut it to six, it would not be enough as the Flames controlled the play and then a last second layup off an offensive rebound from Lauren Scherf put the icing on the cake for a 62-54 victory.

The Flames’ dominance off the boards was the crucial difference between the teams, racking up a whopping 57 rebounds to 38, which allowed them to also control second chance points, putting in 25-6 and making the most of poor accuracy. Sydney Uni will certainly want to sharpen up their shooting for the next match, only scoring at a 32 per cent clip. The Spirit were not much better at 34 per cent, but they matched it with the Flames for the most part, winning the assists for the first time (17-16), and having a couple more fast break points (8-6).

Alison Schwagmeyer was put up 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals in an impressive performance for the Flames. Christina Boag did not have the same accuracy issues that some of her teammates did, hitting 63 per cent of her field goal attempts to finish with 16 points, as well as six rebounds and two blocks. It made up for an uncharacteristically inaccurate performance from star guard Lauren Mansfield who hit just one of 14 from the field – including one of eight from long range and none of six from two-point range – but the former Lynx talent picked up seven assists, three rebounds and two steals.

Scherf (seven points, six rebounds) and Natalie Burton (six points, seven rebounds and four blocks) were strong throughout, but it was Anneli Maley who again decimated the opposition near the basket with a whopping game-high 11 rebounds to go with five points.

For the Spirit, Lavey had the 17 points, eight assists and five rebounds, while Ernst picked up 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Sharing the points evenly elsewhere, Mary Goulding had seven, plus four rebounds and two assists, whilst Cassidy McLean (five points, four rebounds), Demi Skinner (five points, five rebounds) and Amelia Todhunter (five points, two rebounds, two assists and three steals) all contributed in some way.

Sydney Uni now have a two-day break until facing the Perth Lynx on Tuesday, while the Spirit come up against Adelaide Lightning on Wednesday.

Picture credit: WNBL

Flyers exact revenge on Boomers

Liz Cambage had a huge day out against the Boomers. Picture credit: WNBL

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have bounced back from their loss to Melbourne Boomers earlier in the 2020 WNBL season to post a commanding 15-point win over their Victorian counterparts today. In a performance led by Liz Cambage who put up a massive 35 points to go with seven rebounds, four blocks and two steals, the Flyers were just too good after quarter time, particularly in the middle two quarters where they outscored the Boomers, 48-35.

The first term was even with Southside getting the edge by a point at the early break, heading in after a high-scoring quarter to lead 22-21. They continued their scoring prowess in the second term, but managed to restrict the Boomers’ impact on the scoreboard, putting up 20 points to 12 and leading by nine at half-time They continued that momentum after the break to win the third quarter solidly with 28 points to 23, before finishing off marginally ahead in the final stanza, saluting 24-23. It allowed them to post a 94-79 victory and remain equal on top with the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals.

Southside was deadly from the field, hitting 62 per cent of their shots, and despite having 10 less field goal attempts, managed to slot six more overall, including 10 of 17 from long-range in a three-point shooting bonanza. The boomers hit 44 per cent from the field, largely let down by their two-point shooting which ran at less than 50 per cent, but their three-point efforts were relatively strong with 10 from 26.

The teams were evenly poised across the stats with the Boomers picking up one extra rebound (32-31), as well as more steals (11-7), bench points (19-11) and second chance points (6-4). The Flyers were controlling the offence with 29 assists to 22, whilst also having six blocks to two and scoring four more fast break points.

Aside from Cambage who was clearly best on court in the win, the Flyers had three others who contributed double-figure points. Fellow big, Sara Blicavs hit 18 points – seven of nine from the field – along with nine rebounds and four assists, while Rebecca Cole (16 points at 87 per cent efficiency, seven assists, four rebounds and two steals) and Jenna O’Hea (11 points at 66 per cent efficiency, two rebounds) both emphasised how accurate the Flyers were.

Steph Blicavs was also effective off the bench, hitting three of her four shots to finish with six points, three rebounds and two assists. Leilani Mitchell only put up three shots for three points, but dished off dimes like there was no tomorrow with a massive 11 assists.

For the Boomers, Ezi Magbegor scored a team-high 20 points to go with five rebounds and two assists, hitting 69 per cent of her shots from the field, including nine of 11 from inside the arc. Cayla George (12 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and three steals) could not have done much more on a losing side, while Ashleigh Karaitiana (10 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Tess Madgen (10 points, four assists and three rebounds) were also busy. Kalani Purcell (nine points, three rebounds and four steals) was the standout coming off the Boomers’ bench.

Flyers produce another dominant win to take care of Lightning

THERE has been no shortage of dominant Southside Flyers wins this season, but the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) heavyweights completely dismantled Adelaide Lightning in a dominant 111-72 victory last night. The Flyers were just unbelievably good hitting more than half of their field goals, including 57 per cent from two-point range and 38 per cent from long-range, and never looked like losing, winning every quarter by at least seven points.

From the first tip-off Southside got off to a flyer piling on 29 points to 22 in a high-scoring opening term, then blew away the Lightning with a massive 31-17 second quarter. Up by 21 already at the half, the Flyers did not take the foot off the pedal, pouring on another 30 points to 20, and the game was done and dusted as the Flyers were out to a 31-point advantage. Needing to stem the bleeding in the final quarter, the Lightning managed to make it closer, but they still lost the term by eight, going down in a one-sided contest with the Flyers flexing their muscles on their way to a whopping 39-point win.

The Flyers won all the key statistics, with their accuracy being a huge feature of the game, particularly worrying the defence when getting to the basket, nailing 19 of 23 for an 82 per cent clip, whilst the Lightning only had four free throws for the entire game. The rebounds were fairly even with 42-39 in favour of the winners, but they were clearly the better team in assists (31-17) and steals (15-4), and crucified the Lightning on their turnovers.

Adelaide had 25 turnovers to 10, with the Flyers taking full advantage, scoring 33 points to five off the turnover, as well as 20 fast break points to 11. They still had plenty of contribution off their bench thanks to 31 points compared to 22, and also only produced 10 personal fouls to 18. It was as dominant performance as there had been all season.

Liz Cambage just dominated again and was a class above, hitting 12 of her 16 field goals, getting to the line more often than the entire opposition side, and finishing with 29 points and six rebounds. She was far from alone though, as Jenna O’Hea hit 18 points, four rebounds, six assists and four steals, and Rebecca Cole had 16 points, two rebounds, two assists and two steals. Impressively, neither had a turnover on the night, nor did playmaker Leilani Mitchell who racked up eight points and seven assists.

Every player on the Flyers’ side scored, as Monique Conti made the most of more court time in the match, putting up 10 points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal in 13 minutes, while the Blicavs – Sara and Steph – combined for 16 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.

For the Lightning, Alex Wilson hit a team-high 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists and one block, as one of five players who reached double-figure points. The Lightning shared the points around, as Chelsea Brook came off the bench for 12 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Steph Talbot (11 points, six rebounds and two assists), Abigail Wehrung (11 points, two rebounds and two assists) and Marena Whittle (10 points, three rebounds) all had an impact.

The Flyers moved to the top of the table with the victory and now can rest up before facing a Melbourne Boomers lineup that will be up for its fourth game this week, while the Lightning will need to shake off the loss for a huge clash against back-to-back premiers University of Canberra Capitals on Friday night.

Picture: Albert Perez/Getty Images

Madgen makes a Booming return, Melbourne knock off Flames in Thursday opener

WITH the mission being to win a championship for the first time since 2011, the Melbourne Boomers are on the right track to start their WNBL20 campaign, with a 15-point victory over the Sydney Uni Flames, 85-70.

A 14-point score difference in the second and third quarters proved to be the difference in the end, as the Boomers’ main weapons found their strokes after the first quarter break.

Melbourne’s starting five was as expected with Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor going shoulder-to-shoulder in the Boomers frontcourt with Maddie Garrick, Tess Madgen and Stella Beck filling the spots outside the perimeter. But many were keen to see how Flames Head Coach Katrina Hibbert lined up her squad for the opening tip. Time would divulge the line-up as being Lauren Mansfield, Alison Schwagmeyer and Anneli Maley running the backcourt, and former Opal Natalie Burton defending the rim with Lauren Scherf.

Early rebounds from George paved the way for the opening points of the contest with Madgen making her return to the Boomers official, putting up the initial two points of the game down the lane. The ensuing play throughout the remainder of the first period would be rather even in terms of scoring, with the Flames edging their noses in front for nine of the first ten minutes.

Coach Guy Molloy made his first rotation change six minutes into the first by injecting Kalani Purcell and Ashleigh Karaitiana, which shifted momentum following a layup and a charge from the pair. With less than a minute to play in the first, Beck would drill a three to return the lead to Melbourne and conclude proceedings in the opening 10 minutes, putting the score at 17-15 in favour of the Boomers.

Following a relatively quiet first quarter from both sides, the first score of the second came after two minutes with Purcell capitalising on good aggression to the rim. But the Flames hit back quickly with Carly Boag earning herself an And-One and Mansfield tying it up shortly after with a triple of her own.

Magbegor went through 14 minutes of play without putting her name on the scoresheet, but she quickly bucked that trend with an And-One to reassert her team’s control giving her side a 40-34 buffer. In the twilight minutes of the second quarter Melbourne’s Opals started to shine through, as the combination of Madgen and George put their skillsets on display by putting a double-digit cushion between the two teams.

Madgen, who led the game in scoring heading into halftime with 70 per cent shooting would compile 15 points along with four rebounds and help the Purple and Gold to a comforting 43-31 lead. Meanwhile, Garrick was next up on deck with eight points and George had a rebound for every first-half-point of her own, producing six points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of play.

A quiet first two periods for the Flames saw Mansfield (seven points) and Scherf (six points) leading their roster in the scoring totals, whereas Schwagmeyer was embracing her new role as a starter with five points and a triplet of assists.

Magbegor started the second half picking up steam, knocking down three free-throws and a put-back layup to get Melbourne off on the right foot in their pursuit of a Game One win. On the other hand, a disjointed Sydney Uni offence struggled to convert early in the third quarter. Mansfield, however, came through after three minutes to get her ninth point of the contest.

Midway through the third phase, Molloy’s squad would crack the 20-point-lead mark with five minutes left in the third thanks to a 12-2 start succeeding half-time, as he made the most out of his starters – namely 30-year-old Madgen and her 22 points in 25 minutes, and Magbegor who had a double-double prior to the third intermission for the Boomers, who were up 64-48 with 10 minutes to play.

While the fourth seemed like a formality, the Flames put up a scrappy end quarter to bring the margin back to a respectable number. Sporadic highlights from secondary prospects like Funda Nakkasoglu and Shanae Greaves brought the deficit back to 15, but the damage had already been inflicted by last season’s third seed, as Melbourne coasted home to a dominant 85-70 triumph.

Shooting 47 per cent overall as a team compared to Sydney Uni’s 32 per cent, Melbourne were on another level when it came to putting points up on the scoreboard. A plus-13 on the boards summed up the Boomers’ performance (48-35), as a season-opening win seemed imperative to the team even before the first whistle.

In her return to the side for the first time in five seasons, Madgen put on a clinic during her 33 minutes of court time. She found her mark on ten field goals, which in-turn led to 23 points, five assists and four rebounds on the night. Magbegor had a quiet first half which led to a resounding second, resulting in a 16-point and 11-rebound performance for the 21-year-old, whereas Garrick left the floor with 14 points of her own. George accounted for eight points and nine rebounds.

The Flames will need to move on quickly and revert back to the basics if they are to bounce back in two days against the Bendigo Spirit, but Sydney Uni had some solid performances, nevertheless. Mansfield recorded a team-high 17 points off the back of three triples, while Scherf led the way in rebounds with seven next to her 10 points. But surprisingly in her return to the WNBL, Nakkasoglu came up big with 12 points comprising of two three-pointers and 100 per cent accuracy from the charity strike (6/6).

After a long time away from the city she admires, Madgen noted post-game how much she was looking forward to playing for Melbourne once again, “I love Melbourne, I love the Boomers and we have got a great team,” said Madgen. “[We have] a lot of really good players and a great coaching staff. It has been a long preseason so it is really good to be out there and play,” she added.

Two days from now, the Boomers size up their cross-town rivals the Southside Flyers in what will be a battle of raw talent on both sides, as two of the best clubs in the country go at it head-to-head in Townsville’s Saturday night double-header.

Picture: WNBL

Flyers reinforce notion as “team-to-beat”, thrash Spirit by 42

Liz Cambage made a successful return to the WNBL on Thursday. Picture credit: WNBL

This year’s championship-favourites proved why they hold that title last night in a 40-minute demolition job of the Bendigo Spirit. The Flyers’ international-calibre depth was on display throughout all four quarters led by their marquee signing Liz Cambage and her “hit squad” of long-time Opals, lashing Bendigo 102-60.

Southside’s star-studded line-up was as expected with Leilani Mitchell and Bec Cole in the backcourt being supported by Jenna O’Hea, Sara Blicavs and Cambage. For the Spirit, Amelia Todhunter, Tessa Lavey, Mary Goulding, Alicia Froling and Carley Ernst got the nod to start the contest.

Froling and Mitchell got the scoring going for their respective teams, but two minutes in, Cambage made her presence known with seven-straight points, setting in motion an early advantage to the Flyers.

Cole got her range going five minutes in with a three-pointer, but Lavey and the Spirit proved pesky opponents in the infancy stages of the game. Despite this, former Opal Rachel Jarry put a dent in Bendigo’s ploy with a three and a jumpshot to extend Southside’s first-quarter lead, which was followed up by a last-second layup from Aimie Clydesdale to conclude a 60 per cent shooting first quarter of play with the Flyers up 22-12.

Bendigo came out of the opening intermission with a focused intent, following five-straight points from Ernst. But for every bit of headway the Spirit made, Southside’s depth undid their work again and again. This problem was further compounded by a 14-0 Flyers run topped off by an O’Hea corner three and in the blink of an eye, the score sat at 43-19 halfway through the second.

To wrap up the first half, both sides exhibited their secondary units, as Southside continued their lead upwards thanks to individuals like Stephanie Blicavs and Monique Conti, as the half time score would read 30-56 in favour of the Flyers.

Headlining their ridiculous efficiency through two quarters (63 per cent conversion rate) were the Southside starters, as the team’s core unit spread out the scoring load up until the midway point of the contest. More specifically, Cambage led the way with 13 points and three rebounds next to her frontcourt partner in crime Sara Blicavs, who totalled eight points and eight rebounds after 20 minutes.

Spirit Head Coach Tracy York relied heavily on her marquee duo in Ernst and Lavey, as the two combined for 33 minutes and 18 points in the first half, whereas Froling hustled her way to seven rebounds.

Bendigo enjoyed a rare scoring stint in the third term with an 8-2 run three minutes into the second half, lighting a small fire under the squad. Unfortunately for the Spirit, more of the same from Cambage was to follow, as she used her size and her strength to bully all opponents defending her around the rim.

Southside continued their barrage from deep thanks primarily to Steph Blicavs and Jarry in the third quarter alone, even including Development Player Saraid Taylor on the action as she polished off a triple with a minute remaining in the championship quarter. Clydesdale almost made the quarter better, getting off a last second three-pointer just milliseconds after the buzzer had sounded.

A foregone conclusion long before the fourth quarter, the Flyers ran out Thursday night’s closer with a complete four quarter performance, outscoring the Spirit 22-13 in the fourth, cracking the 40-point lead mark with 102 seconds to play and achieving 100 team points on the game with 40 seconds left, culminating in a head-to-toe 102-60 rout of Bendigo.

Looking at both teams statistically, the Spirit would get the better of the Flyers in free-throw percentage, but virtually every other aspect of the game belonged to Southside. Most noticeable from last night’s victors was their accuracy from the field, as last year’s runners-ups converted on 38 baskets from 71 attempts (53 per cent). This also included 13 threes from 26 assists in what was nothing less than a one-sided affair.

In just 20 minutes of play, Cambage would set a game-high total in points with 19, while Sara Blicavs continued to uphold her reputation as a rebounding machine with a double-double performance of 17 points and 12 boards. Cole (12) and Mitchell (10) also secured double digits, as Conti impressed off the bench with her fast-paced style of play and silky handles – she finished with nine points and three rebounds.

Knowing full well that they face the Sydney Uni Flames in a couple of days, the Spirit have the chance to bounce back from what just transpired. Some positives could be taken away from last night, especially from specific individuals. Ernst earned herself a solid 16-point and seven-rebound effort, whilst Froling made her first contest back since her injury a respectable one on the glass, finishing with four points and 11 rebounds. In what was a lacklustre shooting night for the captain, Lavey’s eight points from 18 per cent accuracy will be a night to forget, as she prepares herself to lead the Spirit into Saturday’s clash.

In her post-game interview, Sara Blicavs pointed to the team’s eagerness to get back on the floor as their primary motivator in what was a total team effort, “I think we were just excited to get back on the court you know?” said Blicavs.

“We are obviously from Victoria, so we have been in lockdown for about six months and we have not played a game since the Grand Final in March, so we were just eager to get out here.

“We were a little bit nervous; but I think pre-game we got a lot of our energy out which was good, and we came out on court and executed,” she finalised.

WNBL fans have to wait for Saturday night in what will be a meeting of two behemoths, with the Flyers taking on the Melbourne Boomers who are coming off a convincing win against the Flames. A true test of strength will be showcased, as we gain insight into what a possible Grand Final matchup could look like.

2020 WNBL Round 1 weekday preview: Mackay and Townsville hubs tip-off as all eight teams commence

IN 2020 the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) is a little different compared to usual, with the rounds stretching over more days with extra games. At Draft Central, we will preview the weekday games, followed by the weekend games separately to ensure the permutations in the second half of the round are as accurate as possible.

We tip-off Round 1 with all eight sides competing in the North Queensland hubs, starting in Mackay on Wednesday, and then heading to Townsville on Thursday in what should be a blockbuster opening round of action.

* Game times are local/AEDT

ADELAIDE LIGHTING vs. UC CAPITALS
Wednesday, November 11, 5/6pm (Mackay)

Opening the new season is 2019/20 finalists, Adelaide Lightning going up against reigning premiers, UC Capitals. The Capitals will be keen to retain their title in the 2020 shortened season despite losing a couple of key imports over the off-season. In the absence of volume shooter and league Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kia Nurse, and Grand Final Series MVP Olivia Epoupa, the Capitals will have a slightly different starting five heading into the season.

The quartet of Australians crucial to the success fo the Capitals all re-signed with co-captains Kelsey Griffin and Marianna Tolo, and rising stars Keely Froling and Maddison Rocci all rejoining the side. Sydney Uni Flames’ Tahlia Tupaea was tipped to be the fifth member of the starting side for coach Paul Gorriss. Along with Tupaea, the Capitals have also brought in former Lightning talents Hannah Kaser and Ashley Taia to add some spice to the mix, as well as up and coming youngster Jade Melbourne.

While the Capitals largely have a known list, the Lightning will be vastly different to the team that fronted up last season. Chelsea Brook, Steph Talbot are the only two expected starters who got on court last season, with Jasmin Fejo predicted to play a key role in 2020. With veteran Lauren Nicholson heading north to Townsville and captain Nicole Seekamp retiring, the Lightning have brought in key player Marena Whittle, and had added talented college graduate Alana Smith but unfortunately injury has ruled her out for the year. Others who have joined returning back to the country include Taylor Ortlepp, Ella Batish and Carlie Smith, as well as WNBL talents Alex Wilson (Sydney Uni Flames), Louella Tomlinson (Southside Flyers) and Abbey Wehrung (Bendigo Spirit).

The UC Capitals will head in as favourites for the clash coming in as reigning premiers and with more stability in their line-up, but the Lightning will be an exciting team to see how they gel.

PERTH LYNX vs. TOWNSVILLE FIRE
Wednesday, November 11, 7/8pm (Mackay)

Two sides that will be keen to build on their 2019/20 season will be Perth Lynx and Townsville Fire who missed out on the post-season finals. The Fire will be no stranger to the weather conditions in the far north, but find themselves the visiting team in this encounter with the Lynx. The Fire have made a number of changes to invigorate their lineup with both young stars and experienced heads joining the team. The Lynx will also look largely different after some off-season changes, including assistant coach Ryan Petrik stepping up to replace outgoing head coach Andy Stewart.

The biggest intrigue of the match will be the changing of colours of Nadeen Payne and Darcee Garbin who effectively were involved in a trade with the players switching allegiances. Payne went from Perth to Townsville, whilst Garbin joined the Lynx from the Fire. Young gun Shyla Heal was the huge signing of the off-season for the Fire, with up-and-comers Megan McKay, Lara McSpadden and Courtney Woods all strengthening the outfit. Steph Reid crossed from Southside Flyers for more court time and enjoyed a strong QSL season, whilst Lauren Nicholson’s arrival from the Lightning added that experience needed at the Fire around the young talent.

The Lynx did not waste any time by announcing veteran and former Lynx star Sami Whitcomb back for the season, but unfortunately she was mutually released for family reasons. The re-signing of Katie Ebzery was as important as any, whilst Garbin was a welcome inclusion. The omissions are going to hurt, with not only Payne going, but Lauren Mansfield and Alison Schwagmeyer heading to Sydney Uni, and Marena Whittle joining Adelaide Lightning. Perth also brought in some local players with Kayla Steindl, Ashleigh Isenbarger and Mackenzie Clinch-Hoycard all joining the fray, while Jessie Edwards signed on from the Lightning among a number of other re-signings.

It seems the two sides are at the opposite ends of the off-season success with Townsville bringing in a host of big guns, whilst Perth has lost a number of key players making it tough for the Lynx. With the home state advantage, expect the Fire to start off strongly here.

MELBOURNE BOOMERS vs. SYDNEY UNI FLAMES
Thursday, November 12, 6/7pm (Townsville)

Tipping off Thursday nights’s action in Townsville, two sides that will believe they can go deep in the finals series go head-to-head. The Melbourne Boomers have kept a relatively strong line-up together, whilst Sydney Uni Flames have bolstered their hopes of pushing into the finals series. Given the losses the Lightning have had, the Flames are a huge chance to force their way into the top four, and alongside Townsville are the other side likely to crack into the finals.

The Boomers announced signing Tess Madgen from Townsville and quickly tied up Madeleine Garrick, Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor within the first month of the re-signing period. Kalani Purcell, Antonia Farnworth, Penina Davidson, Stella Beck and Rachel Brewster all followed, with Eliza Wright, Hope Terdich and Rachel Antoniadou stepping up from NBL1 level. Possibly the most underrated signing of the period came in late October with the announcement that Tall Black, Ashleigh Karaitiana would join the side after a big QSL season and she will only strengthen that outfit. The three losses were Monique Conti to the Flyers, Paige Price to Bendigo and Chelsea D’Angelo out with an Achilles injury, but the Boomers are still a formidable unit.

The Flames will be an incredibly different outfit in 2020, possibly four of the starting five coming from other sides. June 24 marked a big day for the Flames, announcing he recruitment of Anneli Maley from Southside Flyers, and even bigger the coup of Lauren Mansfield from Perth Lynx. Alison Schwagmeyer followed Mansfield to the Flames, while Kiera Rowe joined Maley in crossing from Southside. The inclusions replaced the likes of Tahlia Tupaea, Brittany Smart and Lara McSpadden who all departed, whilst Turkish-Australian national Funda Nakkasoglu was allowed to sign having dual citizenship being born in Melbourne. Natalie Burton also returned to her home country and will slot straight into the four spot with Lauren Scherf the other key starter for the Flames. Carly Boag (Finland) also returned home to Australia from Europe and will add to the strength of the side.

Melbourne Boomers have the known form and will be favourites in this game, but the Flames have a lot of unknown about them. That can work in their favour once they gel, and could be a dangerous team this season.

BENDIGO SPIRIT vs. SOUTHSIDE FLYERS
Thursday, November 12, 8/9pm (Townsville)

The final game of the first half of the round might be the most anticipated. Not necessarily due to the result, but more so to see the much anticipated starting five of the Southside Flyers. Last year’s runners-up have got enough Opals to open a jewellery shop, and they are favourites for the overall title. Some have suggested it could be the greatest line-up ever assembled, which could well be true which only adds to the pressure and intrigue. Bendigo Spirit will have the toughest assignment up first, with a much more inexperienced lineup compared to the Flyers.

The Spirit lost American Rebecca Tobin who chose to head to Romania, as well as Abbey Wehrung (Adelaide) and Shyla Heal (Townsville) who will all be big losses. They have signed up college returnee Georgia Pineau who should help provide some extra young talent to the team, as well as Amelia Todhunter and Piper Dunlop out of the NBL1 competition. Dunlop is a rising star and one to watch, whilst Mary Goulding has returned from Sweden, and Jennie Rintala crossed over from the Lightning. Paige Price adds some great young talent to the Spirit taking over from Heal, while the re-signings of Alicia Froling, Cassidy McLean and Tessa Lavey were crucial, with the latter also testing herself at AFL Women’s, but will be present in the hub.

Southside Flyers on the other hand went from strength to strength over the off-season. Losing crucial import Mercedes Russell to Turkey due to the no-imports rule, they set about re-signing everybody else. Jenna O’Hea, Rebecca Cole, Sara Blicavs, Aimie Clydesdale and Rebecca Pizzey all signed on in between a host of incredible signings. Steph Blicavs crossed from Adelaide, Rachel Jarry stepped up from NBL1, and Monique Conti came over from cross-town rivals the Boomers. But by far the biggest both physically and metaphorically was Liz Campage with the WNBA champion the biggest signing of the off-season and turning the Flyers into the standout team. The Flyers did lose a few, with Steph Reid going to Townsville, Louella Tomlinson heading to Adelaide and Kiera Rowe going to Sydney Uni, but the inclusions far outweigh the omissions.

It is hard to look past Southside in any game this season just about, and when they are coming up against an inexperienced Bendigo lineup, the Flyers are comfortably the favourites in this one.

Picture: WNBL

WNBL Player Spotlight – Southside Flyers – Leilani Mitchell

MOST punters heading into the new WNBL season would invest their chips heavily into the Southside Flyers squad that head coach Cheryl Chambers has strung together, as a starting five filled with prominent Opals is set to take the North-Queensland hub by storm.

When asked if this side was one of the most talented squads Chambers has had prior to a season tip-off it is no surprise she promptly responded with “it certainly is”.

“We’ve got some quality players, some older players, some younger players, we’ve got a bit of a mix of everything, so we think it’s a good group. However of course, just because you’re a good group it doesn’t mean you win games, so there is a lot of work to do and make sure we play as a team. But I’m really excited to work with the girls from last season again and bring in the likes of Liz Cambage, Rachel Jarry and Steph Blicavs, which is exciting because they are players with lots of knowledge,” Chambers finalised.

Nevertheless, we focus on one of Australia’s best point guards in the nation’s history to kick off the Flyers’ Player Spotlight series. That of course is veteran 35-year-old American-born Leilani Mitchell, as she prepares for her seventh campaign in the Australian women’s top-flight for basketball.

Coming off of a solid 2020 WNBA season averaging 9.5 points per game across 22 games for the Washington Mystics, Mitchell certainly boasts a constantly dynamic brand of basketball. The sharpshooter also targeted the rim with archer-like precision, converting on 40.8 per cent of her shots from the field and at 30.5 per cent from three-point range.

These numbers, despite being in a competitive League like the WNBA, tell a similar story in the Australian scene. Mitchell shot at a remarkable rate in WNBL20 averaging 15.7 points, 5.2 assists and 3.2 each time out on the floor. Her shooting consistency again was as reliable as ever, going 45.6 per cent from the field and 42.3 from deep.

It became a no-brainer that Southside would want nothing more than to retain Mitchell’s services for another season, and come September 3, the Flyers’ faithful got their wish as Mitchell publicly committed to another fixture with last season’s runner-up.

“I’m beyond excited to continue playing for the Southside Flyers. I was honoured to be a part of the Flyers inaugural season and can’t wait to get back with the girls and continue our quest for the championship,” Mitchell said.

“I know that we will all return hungry and willing to work hard, build on our team chemistry, and have fun! It’s a wonderful organisation that truly cares for the players. It goes beyond basketball. The management, coaches, teammates, and fans make the Southside Flyers the best organisation to be a part of,” the Washington-born phenom added.

Highlighting the fact that Mitchell is a revered master of the game, Chambers reiterated that next season is not so much about tweaking her point guard’s game, but rather refining it as Mitchell gains a little family time in Newcastle before the start of the new season.

“Given that she’s had such a big workload in the WNBA, the thing will be to try and look after her and make sure that she has some minutes where we can try and offload her so we are not running her into the ground,” Chambers added.

Weekend wash-up: WNBL – Round 6

ROUND 6 was owned by the Boomers, who ended Perth’s winning streak and made it two from two in the Grand Final rematches. A clutch three from Tess Madgen stole the show on Friday night, but Dandenong beating the Spirit came a close second in a packed round of Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) highlights.

 

Bendigo Spirit (62) defeated by Dandenong Rangers (83)

In a major upset, the Rangers took home a 21-point victory over the Spirit, handing them their third loss for the season. Despite having less shots and rebounds, Dandenong brought superb shooting to Bendigo Stadium. The Rangers hit 33 of their 65 shots compared with the Spirit’s 23 from 74. In the end, the Spirit’s relentlessness failed to match their opponent’s class as they copped a huge blow at home. Big contributor, Kayla Pedersen worked hard in the paint. She put up 12 points, took 12 rebounds and scored six from six at the foul line. Betnijah Laney also played well within the arc, scoring 18 points (72 per cent) with five assists, along with fellow big performers, Rebecca Cole (16 points, two rebounds and five assists) and Tessa Lavey (17 points, three rebounds and two assists). On Bendigo’s end, shooting percentages were disappointing, hitting as low as nine per cent from 11 shots. Rebecca Tobin had some impressive efforts, scoring 14 points, eight rebounds, two assists and hit six from six from the foul line. She was the only Bendigo player to crack over 10 points and still only shot at 36 per cent.

 

Adelaide Lightning (77) defeated by Townsville Fire (79)

Two games down and another loss for the home team as Townsville powered home with a huge second half. Heading into the third quarter 10 points behind, Townsville shot 22 to 12 to tie the game heading into the fourth. It was Tess Madgen’s three-pointer with 10 seconds left that gave them the win and WNBL fans one of the best games of the year. Suzy Batkovic’s neck injury had some Townsville fans worried last week as she failed to have her usual impact. Though those worries seem behind her, putting up 26 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. She now sits atop the league table in points and second in rebounds. Game winner, Madgen was also clinical with 13 points at 83 per cent, hitting all three of her three-pointers, earning six rebounds and three steals. Zitina Aokuso also impacted well despite only playing 17 minutes, scoring 15 points, five rebounds and hitting five of her eight foul shots. On the other end, Kayla Alexander tore it up under the ring with 14 rebounds 16 points and three steals, while Steph Blicavs shot well to score 15 and earned three rebounds, four assists and two blocks.

 

Perth Lynx (69) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (89)

With an enormous 31-point opener, the Boomers snagged the third away win for Round 6 with a big 20-point victory in Perth. They hit 36 of their 78 shots, sunk 15 from range, earned 51 rebounds and 23 assists. The one thing that let them down slightly was their aggressive defense, giving away 26 shots from the foul line compared to only shooting three themselves. The Lynx hit 22 of their 70 shots, played predominantly inside with 18 hit shots and lacked from range with just four. Lindsay Allen was clinical for Melbourne with 26 points, five rebounds and five assists, alongside Cayla George with 16 points and nine rebounds. Every starter recorded at least one three with Allen (four) and Maddie Garrick (three) scoring seven between them. On the opposing end, Asia Taylor scored 20 points and nine rebounds for the Lynx, but only shot at 38 per cent. The margin would have been greater if the Boomers had cleaned up their defence, but a 20-point victory is still nothing to gloss over.

 

Melbourne Boomers (79) defeated Townsville Fire (75)

The Boomers immediately followed up their win in Perth with a tight win at home against a similarly impressive Townsville Fire. With both teams recording great wins earlier in the round and having a close game last week, this match was sure to be a good one. Townsville looked sure to snag another come-from-behind victory after a huge 24 to 16-point period in the fourth. Despite Ally Mallot’s lay-up to tie the game with 38 seconds remaining, Kalani Purcell’s quick reply and Garrick’s two free throw shots brought the margin back to four points and sealed the win. Allen had another big game for the Boomers, scoring 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals.  George recorded herself a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Garrick also impressed with 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. Micaela Cocks led the scoring for Townsville with 19 points at 72 per cent and four assists, alongside Batkovic’s 12 points, 14 rebounds and two steals. It was refreshing to see someone besides Batkovic lead the scoring and a good handful of the Townsville players crack over 10 points. The Boomers just hung in there in the second half to earn second spot on the ladder.

 

UC Capitals (77) defeated Dandenong Rangers (65)

Though winning their first away game to open the round, it seems travelling might have got the best of the Rangers, losing to the Capitals by 12 points in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Split quite evenly with 28 from 63 for UC Capitals and 25 from 65 for Dandenong Rangers, the game’s biggest difference came from three-pointers and free throws, with five to two and 16 to 13 respectively. Kelsey Griffin stole the show with 25 points, eight rebounds and two assists. With her impressive work at the ring, it seemed impossible not to foul her, earning seven shots at the line. Similarly earning nine shots from the line, Kia Nurse scored 18 with five rebounds and two steals. For the Rangers, Cole played with 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, alongside Laney who scored 13 with five rebounds and three assists. Rachel Jarry was also impressive, earning eight rebounds and five steals. Unlike their game against Bendigo, the Rangers struggled with efficiency and should look to correct that come next round.

 

Sydney Uni Flames (55) defeated by Bendigo Spirit (67)

The Spirit corrected their mistakes from earlier in the round to take home a victory over the winless Sydney away from home. Like the previous game, not a lot separated these teams on the stat sheet. The Flames opened well with 22 points to 17, trailed by a point entering the third and then completely dropped off, only recording four points in that term. That one quarter let them down and was the biggest contributor for their loss. Again, Tobin played well. She recorded 11 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Nat Hurst also played well with 11 points of her own and six rebounds. For the Flames, Tahlia Tupaea led the scoring on 13 points and earned five rebounds and six assists. Despite struggling with percentage, Ally Wilson scored 12 points and earned four rebounds with two assists. The Flames continue to struggle with their efficiency and make it increasingly harder to make something of this season even if they can’t fix their weak spots.

Weekend previews: WNBL – Round 4

ROUND 4 promises to be a big one with traditional rivals, Melbourne and Dandenong going head to head. The Lynx have already got their round started with a win over the Flames.

 

Dandenong Rangers v Melbourne Boomers
3pm, Saturday at Dandenong Venue

The key match-ups:
Betnijah Laney v Jenna O’Hea

Laney continues to be one of the most dominant forwards in the league, sitting in the top 10 for both rebounds and assists. Her work at the board has a lot to admire, displaying both confidence and form in play. In her last game, she led her team in scoring, but like her teammates, she struggled with efficiency. She hit four from six inside and two from seven at range, ending the game with 16 points. She was also standout off the rebound, taking four offensive and five defensive to lead the tally for the game. For the Boomers, O’Hea boasts strong efficiency but does not take as many shots. Against the Capitals, she shot at 60 per cent and scored nine, and against the Flames she shot at 77 per cent and scored 19. While she does not put out the same minutes as Laney, O’Hea is a clean basketball player who makes her impact known. At range, she’s likely to hurt the Rangers but Laney should prove challenging under the ring.

The season so far:

Both teams are in pretty even stead, sitting with two wins and two losses apiece. The main difference being that the Boomers won their last two, where the Rangers lost theirs. In the beginning, the Rangers impressed with back to back wins, but are highlighted for having drawn the easier opener compared to other teams. Since then, they have dropped games to Bendigo and Perth, losing by over 20 points in both. Comparatively, Melbourne snagged a win over Sydney, ending their losing streak and continuing their success to take out the Capitals. The Boomers handed them their first loss last week and look to be on their way to a strong season.

The match:

The Rangers continue to show issues with their efficiency at the ring, so we’re bound to see a lot thrown up, but what lands will be determined on the day. Laney should stand tall on the rebound and lead the scoring for her team, with Kayla Pederson driving and Rebecca Cole having a go from the paint. If the Boomers keep it clean, they should take the win. Cayla George will lead on rebounding and might prove the biggest threat to Laney under the ring. O’Hea should also score a few alongside Lindsay Allen and Steph Talbot. The Boomers are set to continue their turn around, but the Rangers could upset with a little polish.

 

Bendigo Spirit v Adelaide Lightning
7pm, Saturday at Bendigo Stadium

The key match-ups:
Nadeen Payne v Nia Coffey

As expected, Payne and Coffey were both standouts for their teams, but no one proved more impressive than Coffey herself. Adelaide’s sensation put on absolute thriller for spectators with 21 points from 20 shots, and 20 rebounds (eight offensive and 12 defensive). She has now overtaken Suzy Batkovic for most league rebounds. Payne impressed less on the boards, but she proved far more efficient in terms of shooting. In their second game, Coffey will likely be shut down and Payne should look to lift. The pair are both strong players for their team and can dictate much of the game.

The season so far:

Though undefeated upon entering Round 3, Bendigo faced back-to-back losses at the hands of both Perth and Adelaide. While the Spirit’s match against the Lynx was settled by five points, they lost to Adelaide . by 28 points . It seems the Lightning regained some of their footing in their last game after back to back losses. After narrowly losing to the Capitals, they were set to make a change. Against Bendigo, they put up 80 shots and shot far better from range.

The match:

The Spirit will likely make a few changes in their approach after losing so comprehensively to Adelaide last week. Payne should pose more of a threat under the basket and bring her patented efficiency to the Spirit’s shooting. Natalie Hurst should hopefully find her groove off her jumper, while Rebecca Tobin assists on minimising Coffey on the rebound. As for the Adelaide, Steph Blicavs will likely dominate at range, while Coffey cleans up the rebounds. Lauren Nicholson should drive well to the ring and pull up well on the inside, while Nicole Seekamp shares the ball around and puts up a few of her own.

 

Townsville Fire v Perth Lynx
7pm, Saturday at Townsville Stadium

The key match-ups:
Suzy Batkovic v Kayla Steindl

At the beginning of Round 3, Batkovic led the league for rebounds, but lost top spot to Coffey after she picked up 20 in her last game. Although she still leads the league in another category, as Batkovic sits atop the table for points after a 30-point game against Sydney Uni Flames. She earned herself a double-double with 12 rebounds and shot well with 10 from 17 and hit 10 of her 13 free throws. Less damaging, Steindl only hit two of her seven shots, finishing her last game with six points. However, her more notable stat came from eight rebounds (four offensive and four defensive). In her last game against Townsville, she scored little again but posed a huge threat on the rebound (eight). Steindl will best minimise Batkovic if she can take offensive rebounds, but with Batkovic being the most damaging player under the ring, her work will be cut out for her.

The season so far:

The Lynx sit on three consecutive wins following their loss on Round 1, while the Fire sit on two wins and two losses without having consecutive victories. The last time the pair faced, Perth beat Townsville by 10 points. The stats were quite close across the board, both shooting at 46 per cent, 23 assists and finishing close on rebounds (40-37). In the end, Perth just sunk more, and the victory was not largely a result of weak spots for Townsville. Perth’s success continues to come at a result of it efficiency and cleanliness in defence. Townsville’s biggest issue continues to be a lack of a second dominant player to help assist Batkovic, and a lack of consistency.

The match:

Like stated countlessly, Batkovic should dominate this game for Townsville but questions arise as to whether it will be enough. If Perth can keep her minimised, the Lynx should see their way to easy win. Casey Samuels and Darcee Garbin have the potential to assist Batkovic more but will need a serious lift if they intend to keep up. For Perth, Schwagmeyer should damage within the arc, and assist Steindl in minimising Batkovic. On the attack, Taylor will pick up points and rebound well, while McPhee sinks the ball from range. The Lynx are likely to keep their streak going, currently boasting the most efficient game in the league.

 

UC Capitals v Sydney Uni Flames
2pm, Sunday at National Convention Centre

The key match-ups:
Kia Nurse v Brittany Smart

This match-up will be one of most entertaining of the round. Nurse averages the fourth most minutes in the league and fourth for average points. Smart, similarly, sits on the table for minutes placed at seventh. In their last games both women had strong performances. Nurse hit seven from 17 from the field, with four inside and three from the arc. Though like most of her games, a good portion of her points came from her time at the free throw line (12 from 16). Players continue to struggle defending her while she’s driving to the ring. For Smart, most of her scores came from impeccable ranged shooting, hitting five from seven outside the arc. For the day, she finished with 24 points and seven rebounds, continuing to be a standout for her team. This pair should go shot for shot all night.

The season so far:

The Capitals had their winning streak ended last round against the Boomers on Friday. From the field, the Capitals recorded less shots due to their continued time spent at the free throw line. In their first game against the Boomers, they recorded 17 shots from the foul line and 30 in their second. Teams seem to struggle with effectively defending the Capitals, as it continues to show in their free throw stats. The Flames are yet to win a game and continue to face some tough competition as they progress through the season. Their efficiency continues to let them down despite some strong individual performances. Sydney will be looking for its first win in this game.

The match:

Nurse should lead the way for UC Capitals, shooting well from range with Kelsey Griffin, who herself should threaten on the rebound. Kelly Wilson will pass and rebound well as she continues to lead the league in assists. For Sydney, Smart will be going toe to toe with Nurse and Griffin, dominating the game outside the arc. Sydney’s Ally Wilson sits just below Kelly Wilson in assists and could knock her off top spot with a big performance this weekend, while also sinking a good few of her own.

 

Melbourne Boomers v Bendigo Spirit
7:30pm, Monday at State Basketball Centre

The key match-ups:
Lindsay Allen v Natalie Hurst

The Boomers had a strong showing against UC Capitals with Allen leading from the front. She picked up 17 points, but only hit six from 17 shots from the field. She has earned her spot on a few top 10s, sitting seventh from average points, second for assists and sixth for steals. Her vision and athleticism complement her team well and make her a problem for any team. Similarly, Hurst sits eighth for assists and tenth for three-point percentage. In her last game, she had a weaker performance with just seven points, but managed to score 14 with seven assists in her game previously. Allen will likely get the upper hand in this battle, but Hurst does not lack the potential to challenge and succeed.

The season so far:

The Boomers won their last two games, whereas the previously undefeated Spirit lost their two games last round. Melbourne snagged its first against the currently winless Sydney Uni Flames and delivered UC Capitals their first loss for the season. Bendigo Spirit on the other hand, sat atop the table heading into Round 3 with only two games played, though put on a poor showing to lose back to back.

The match:

As per usual, Cayla George and O’Hea should do well under the basket, both finding significant success inside the arc. On the outside, Steph Talbot should lead with strong shooting and likely top the table for her team. Allen should follow closely, assisting her teammates with her supreme passing ability. For Bendigo, Hurst will also do well to assist Tobin under the ring and Payne all over the field. In the end, the Boomers should pick up the win, but Bendigo could come back refreshed and shake things up.

Weekend previews: WNBL – Round 3

ROUND 3 in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) sees Canberra and Bendigo as the teams to beat, with both teams remaining undefeated so far. It also gives an opportunity for the Sydney Uni Flames to snag their first win, after going 0-3 in their first three games. Expect plenty of individual highlights from the likes of Suzy Batkovic, Brittany McPhee and Alex Bunton in what will be a compelling round of WNBL.

 

UC Capitals v Melbourne Boomers
Friday, 7pm at AIS Arena

The key match-up:
Kelsey Griffin v Ezi Magbegor

Going hard in both games, Griffin led her team to back-to-back wins with relentless form. In the first match, she dropped 23-points at 44 per cent and boasted the most attempts at the ring (18). In the second, she scored 21 points at 50 per cent. On the rebound, she proved hard to beat, taking 14 and eight rebounds respectively. In offence, her cleanliness damaged defenders, drawing the easy foul and dropping nine points from the line for both games. Similarly, Magbegor showed some athleticism on the inside, scoring all 19 points in close for her first game. She maintained that for her 10 points against the Flames. She is decent off the rebound but is unlikely to beat Griffin’s read. Magbegor’s numbers also may not recognise her contribution as she played under 21 minutes in her first game and just over 17 for her second. With some more game time, she could easily top the board and shake things up for Griffin.

The season so far:

With zero losses to their name, the Capitals sit comfortably high on the table with three wins. While they had a significant dip in their shooting efficiency last week, dropping from 57 per cent to 37 per cent for both games, they still took home the wins. They continue to be a cut above on the rebound and boast low foul numbers. The latter was the biggest contributor to their victory against the Boomers, earning 22 (17 scored) free throws compared to nine (six scored). They continue to remain clean in defence while the Boomers show a lack of polish. Similar numbers were shown in the Boomers’ game against the Flames, giving away 21 (12 scored) free throws, but fortunately, Sydney’s own lack of polish and injury woes helped Melbourne secure its first win for the season. The Boomers currently sit second last but are not devoid of potential by any means.

The match:

With how the season is progressing, it would be unwise to tip against the Capitals in continuing their clean run. In saying that, if the Boomers have taken the time to correct their cleanliness issues, they could cause a real upset. Griffin should continue to top numbers and will likely have another 20-point plus game. She will likely record the most rebounds with clean assists from Kelly Wilson, who herself will likely play a long game. Lauren Scherf should also knock a few down with Kia Nurse firing off at range. The Boomers will look to Magbegor to score and rebound with Cayla George. These two will need to be stronger in these roles to minimise the Capitals’ control. Lindsay Allen should jack up a few alongside Jenna O’Hea, who is likely to continue to her shot efficiency and lead from the front.

 

Perth Lynx v Bendigo Spirit
Friday, 6:30pm at Bendat Basketball Centre

The key match-up:

Brittany McPhee v Marena Whittle

McPhee continues to prove herself to be a dangerous asset for Perth, topping the league’s board for highest average points (21.5). Starting her season off with a modest 11 points, McPhee lifted her stocks with a strong 32-point performance, dominating both in and out of the arc and holding up well for the rebound. Opposingly, Whittle’s game failed to reach her Round 1 hype. She shot well from the arc but underwhelmed on the inside. Her first game told a different tale however, knocking down 21 points and being much more relentless with her shooting. If Whittle can find her groove again, this pair could go shot for shot and really put on a show for spectators.

The season so far:

Both teams sit on two games apiece, with the Spirit undefeated and the Lynx split even. Perth has a chance to redefine its season with a win over top spot, while Bendigo can sustain a perfect run into its next match. For their first two games, the Lynx have been relentless on the offensive, putting up 73 shots in both games. They sat on a 35 per cent shooting efficiency for their first game, gave away 22 free throws to 11 and fell short on rebound numbers, 35 to 53. In their second game, they lifted to a 46 per cent shooting efficiency, earned more free throws (22) and won on the rebound (40). The Spirit boasted 42 and 52 per cent shooting efficiently respectively but were beat both times for rebounds. So far, they have been known to put a bit from range but know how to work the inside too. They took out previously undefeated Dandenong in the second game and sit as one of two teams yet to face a loss.

The match:

Bendigo will be wise to mark McPhee early. Her intensity on both ends of the court could damage the Spirit, and her ability to shoot from anywhere will keep a few defenders on their toes. Asia Taylor and Kayla Steindl will be others to watch. They are both bound to put up some good numbers under the ring and rack up defensive rebounds. For the Spirit, Whittle is set to inflict some damage with Natalie Hurst throwing up some quick jumpers. Rebecca Tobin should continue her good form from last week. Both teams have very different styles, so this one will be one to watch for sure.

 

Townsville Fire v Sydney Uni Flames
Saturday, 2pm at Townsville Stadium

The key match-up:
Suzy Batkovic v Alex Bunton

Leading the league in rebounds, Batkovic continues her 2018/2019 season as a danger under the board. In her last three games, she scored 20, 19 and 23 respectively and dominated her opponents on the rebound. Her height and polished skills allows her to best utilise her assets against her competition. While minimised on the rebound last week against Perth, she still damaged on the scoreboard. However, this time she comes up against maybe her biggest competition thus far in Alex Bunton. Bunton (11) sits just behind Batkovic (11.33) in average rebounds per game, and boasts a similar offensive game. She opened her season with a 27-point game at 76 per cent efficiency and followed up with 16 points and then 19. Her scoring may have dropped slightly but she lifted on her rebounds – going from seven to 15 and 11. This match-up will be an arm wrestle against possibly the two best centres in the league.

The season so far:

Townsville’s season started aggressive but lacked cleanliness, with only 27 shots landing from 75 attempts. The games that proceeded involved less shots but only brought them up to 29 for both proceeding games. Most of the players will drop a couple, but the difference in shot attempts between Batkovic and the rest of her team is too great. Someone else will need to keep up with the Fire’s tall to lessen predictability and lift their team to the next level. The Flames on the other hand have settled at the bottom of the ladder, missing the opportunity to beat Melbourne. They were outdone at range and blew their opportunities at the free throw line. On paper, the team is performing, but lack the right qualities at important moments. They have been done at range, let down on free throws and been beat on the rebound. In the first game, they covered all their bases but were simply outplayed. Since then they’ve dipped and stumbled, but have a chance to change everything this weekend.

The match:

Batkovic will be the biggest issue for the Flames, but with some extra attention, she could be minimised enough to snag their first win. Under the ring, her games are usually comprehensive but against Bunton she might meet her match. We should hopefully see a lift from Casey Samuels’ shooting at range while Darcee Garbin could impress in the paint. For Sydney, Bunton should come out hard against Batkovic, while Brittany Smart should sit close behind on points. Last week’s game was speckled with injury for Sydney so many players’ fitness will come into question in the lead-up.

 

Dandenong Rangers v Perth Lynx
Sunday, 3pm at Dandenong Stadium

The key match-up:
Rebecca Cole v Brittany McPhee

This match-up will be one to watch. Minus her last performance, Cole has had a good start to the year. She picked up 18 points and seven rebounds in her first game, and 21 points, four rebounds and three assists in her second. She has kept steady form if we discount her last game, whereas McPhee’s game had quite a difference between them. Going from an 11-point game to a 32 points, McPhee snagged the top spot for the league scoring average. Cole might have some trouble with McPhee’s pressure, but should look to correct her mistakes from last week.

The season so far:

The Dandenong Rangers currently sit third on the ladder, winning every game but their last against Bendigo. They may have been given an easy draw to start the season, facing last and second last for their first game before being exposed by Bendigo. Their wins have been tight, and while been earned, it’s hard to remain confident given the opponents. The Lynx are looking to take third away from the Rangers with their third game and second win. It is tough to know where they sit now due to the space between their games, but hopefully this round will give a clearer indication of what we should expect.

The match:

The duel to watch will be between Cole and McPhee. After a mediocre performance last week, Cole has more incentive than ever to lift her game as she goes toe to toe with McPhee. Hopefully more of her shots land and we see a similar lift from Betnijah Laney and Tess Lavey. For Perth, McPhee should continue to lead the way. Steindl and Taylor will have to blend well under the ring and are both likely to put up a few of their own. Dandenong has had some easier opponents thus far, so this game is a chance for both teams to instil some confidence and consolidate some opinions.

 

Adelaide Lightning v Bendigo Spirit
Sunday, 3pm at Titanium Security Arena

The key match up:
Nia Coffey v Nadeen Payne

In all three games this season, Coffey has had considerable impact. Her first game impressed with 19 points and 15 rebounds, her second saw her points dip (nine) but her rebounds remain high (12), and in her last game she shot at 70 per cent and scored 16 points. She knows how to leave her mark and adjust accordingly. Payne scored 15 and 16 points respectively in her two games and impressed both on rebounds and assists. At range, Payne is much more practiced and has no problem showing it. Guarding her will require a bit more tracking than it would vice versa but Coffey’s versatility may also prove a bit much for Payne.

The season so far:

Adelaide is a little hard to pin down this season, lacking some consistency between games. The Lightning’s shooting attempts, rebounds and percentage vary a lot between games, as well as their attempts at range compared to inside. In their loss against the Capitals, the Lightning were let down by sloppier defence and their work under the board. Bendigo sits on top of the table leading into this round, but has only played the two games. A poor run could see the Spirit slide quite considerably, or they could follow a run of perfect form and put some room between themselves and the rest of the competition.

The match:

Adelaide has a good list of contributors in their side so impact minimisation may be a little hard for Bendigo. Coffey should win a few under the ring and earn a few free throws off her drive. Lauren Nicholson, Nicole Seekamp and Steph Blicavs will all have a decent crack at the ring, with Blicavs throwing up a good few from range. Payne will have some work to do on the ring for Bendigo, but with the assists from Tobin, she should have a much easier time. Hurst will be one to watch inside the paint, along with Whittle. The Lightning’s home crowd might be enough to pull them over the line and cause a real shuffle of the current ladder come Round 4.