Tag: Stephanie Talbot

Melbourne weathers the Lightning, 21-point victory over Adelaide

AFTER their 76-55 win over the Adelaide Lightning, an impressive Melbourne Boomers roster has regained the third seed in the WNBL standings to kick off the fifth and final round of the season. The win also sets the tone for the rest of their final week with two more games still yet to be decided for one of the competition’s favourites.

Melbourne looked to do damage early, following a triple from Ashleigh Karaitiana on the opening play. However, Ally Wilson answered back with a mid-range jumper of her own to commence proceedings in Cairns.

Trading buckets early, both sides put up consistent numbers for the majority of the first quarter and remained within earshot of one another in that time. But a 10-0 run from the Boomers, allowed the purple and gold to take a superior stance with a double-digit advantage early in the game.

A three-pointer off the inbound pass to Cayla George would drop, as the opening quarter buzzer went off, giving Melbourne a huge 17-point lead at the first break. Now being down 14-31, Adelaide head coach Chris Lucas pleaded with his side to make some changes and talk to one another for the remainder of the contest, a focus point that would do little good.

Despite holding a 20-point buffer approaching the second intermission, the Lightning were able to construct a 7-0 scoring run of their own to ultimately win the second term exclusively, narrowly cutting the deficit to 13 at halftime.

The Lightning’s main issue to address at half-time was George’s accuracy, as she converted 66 per cent of her shots (compared to her team’s 48 per cent) which translated to 14 points, seven rebounds and a couple of assists up to the halftime stoppage. Meanwhile, Stephanie Talbot was accumulating statistics as per usual, with 10 points and four rebounds for her side after 20 minutes.

The efforts in the third quarter from the likes of Ezi Magbegor, Maddie Garrick and Kalani Purcell was enough to maintain a lead over 10 points at the conclusion of the period, but Adelaide’s efforts in the middle quarters was enough to keep the Boomers within striking range with just 10 minutes left to play, especially with sharpshooters Abbey Wehrung and Taylor Ortlepp starting to find their range.

To the Lightning’s credit they worked their way to just an 11-point defici early in the fourth, but Guy Molloy’s roster depth grounded down a struggling Adelaide side, piling on and continually enlarging the lead for the remainder of the meeting.

A massive credit to their work inside the paint, the Boomers totalled 42 points in the key which completely dwindled the Lightning’s 16 points in this area of the game. Such a difference in an extremely important facet of the contest ultimately led to Melbourne’s convincing 21-point win and bumped up the side to third in the WNBL standings as a result.

One of the by-products of Melbourne’s dominance inside the key was their resulting 45 per cent shooting overall, and with Adelaide barely making a quarter of their total attempts (27 per cent) the Boomers made the most of their passing, out assisting the Lightning 25 to 12.

Perfectly fitting for the veteran and future hall of famer, George’s double-double effort (22 points, 11 rebounds and four assists) led the way from start to finish for her side. While supporting frontcourt acts on the night like Magbegor (14 points and 10 rebounds) and Purcell (11 points, nine rebounds and four assists) made her job a little easier in securing the side’s eighth win of the campaign.

Unsurprisingly it was the Lightning’s main two threats that were the team’s only double-digit producers on the scoreboard, with Wilson accumulating 14 points on the night, along with three rebounds and two assists, whereas Talbot finished with 11 points and six rebounds – a more quiet outing than usual for the MVP candidate.

While Adelaide has essentially lost their ability to make a run at the postseason, they need to recover quickly if they are to bounce back tomorrow and topple the Bendigo Spirit, as more of the team’s secondary unit will have extended runs in the last round of the fixture. For the Boomers, they will look to consolidate a precarious third seed when they face off with the Spirit two days later, in what will be a favourable matchup for the title contenders.

Flames snatch victory from Lynx AND halt Perth’s winning streak 

Pic: WNBL

WITH neither the Sydney Uni Flames or the Perth Lynx eligible for the WNBL Finals, it did not stop both sides from playing with a sense of urgency and determination when they collided in the second of last night’s two games, as the former escaped with the win by a mere three points, 71-68.

In the infancy stages of Tuesday’s closer, both teams were able to display formidable tactics defensively throughout the first 10 minutes of play. Evidently this was the case purely based on the fact that both sides would only combine for 23 points, with Perth harbouring the narrow 13-10 lead heading into the first break.

The subsequent quarter to follow proved fruitless in terms of one team taking control over the game, as the Flames outscored the Lynx 20-19 in a more offence-filled second period, putting the half time deficit at just two points.

But with both teams shooting the ball at a rather poor rate, it seemed like just a matter of time before one of the two sides would start to get going. Nevertheless, Flames’ center Lauren Scherf was rejecting the status quo in those regards, compiling 12 points and five rebounds on 44 per cent shooting in her productive first half. Meanwhile, no Perth players on the other side managed to get quite as hot in the first half as Scherf, but Katie Ebzery gave it a red-hot crack with seven points of her own.

Ebzery continued her efforts on the scorecard, doubling her totals in the next 10 minutes while Sydney Uni continued to hang in there and close the distance. With rebounding superstar Anneli Maley continuing her dominance on the glass, as well as 150-gamer Nat Burton and Alison Schwagmeyer providing supplementary supports elsewhere, Katrina Hibbert’s side found themselves a single point the lesser at the final break, 45-44, and looked to get a running start at the turn of the fourth period.

This aim would be fulfilled as the Flames knocked down the opening two baskets of the final term, momentarily holding a one-point lead over the in-form Lynx. But a return three from Alex Ciabattoni 80 seconds in handed back the lead to Ryan Petrik and his side, further prolonging the Flames’ comeback efforts.

Even though Perth managed to hold onto the lead for essentially the whole last term, the Flames would just not go away, tying things up with two and a half minutes remaining and then regaining the lead a minute later off of a Schwagmeyer triple. Known for her shooting, Funda Nakkasoglu put Sydney Uni up by four with 55 seconds left, where Ebzery answered back with a three of her own with 24 seconds to play, putting Perth behind by just a point. But Scherf’s two made free throws with just 10 seconds on the clock iced the game and end the Lynx’s three-game winning streak.

Both teams shot at a surprisingly low efficiency, where Sydney Uni converted on 36 per cent, which was slightly higher than Perth’s 34 per cent. The Flames held the higher ground in a number of categories to name a few. Particularly noticeable was the side’s plus-11 in rebounding (52-41) and superiority off the bench (30-14), while also winning statistically in areas such as assists, second chance points and three-point shooting.

Schwagmeyer (four assists and three rebounds) and Scherf (11 rebounds and five assists) each scraped away with 19 points apiece, whereas Burton (10 points and two assists) and Maley (eight points, 14 rebounds and four assists) were also instrumental in the win.

Despite the Lynx’s best efforts last night, only two individuals managed over 10 points. Ebzery showed off her scoring abilities at the point guard position, with a game-high 24-point performance, as Alex Sharp fought for her 11-point and 12-rebound double-double last night. A major downfall for the side was Darcee Garbin’s lack of impact, as the Opal only managed nine points and seven rebounds in her 37 minutes of court time.

Perth returns to Townsville Stadium on Thursday to try and emerge victorious for the fourth time in five games against the Canberra Capitals, while the Flames will take the court directly after when they try to upstage a Southside Flyers outfit that has not been defeated since the 23rd of November.

Capitals back on top of WNBL standings, waltz by timid Lightning

BOUNCING back from their previous loss against the Melbourne Boomers, the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals returned to top-of-the-table form, with a convincing 85-65 triumph over the Adelaide Lightning, who now fall victim to a three-game losing streak in this ever-crucial part of the campaign.

The Capitals came out firing on all cylinders, knocking down five of their first six attempts as they found themselves up 14-2 just three minutes in against a sluggish Lightning squad early on.

Paul Goriss’s side would not let up on the Adelaide squad in the opening 10 minutes at all, keeping their opponents to single digits at the turn of the first term 25-8, while shooting 100 per cent (10-10) from the free throw line, with Maddison Rocci, Marianna Tolo and Kelsey Griffin all contributing six points each in that stint of time.

In a much more two-sided second quarter, Adelaide started to knock down their shots and get some points on the board. Led by their starting five, the Lightning would only play three bench players during the first half and with key individual Ally Wilson scoreless after two, last year’s semi-finalists found themselves in a sticky situation at the main break, down 25-46. Whereas Rocci had the opposite problem with 14 points up to this stage.

Canberra was proving to be a continual nuisance on the boards as the contest wore on, accumulating a plus-20 in the rebounding category by three-quarter-time, and more astonishingly was the fact that 16 of their 42 rebounds came at the offensive end, leading to 21 second chance points and a 72-38 score line with a period to play.

Coach Goriss and his staff wanted to keep his core unit on the floor for as long as possible to give his starters a quality run, but eventually the Capitals secondary unit made their way onto the floor with five minutes remaining. With the game beyond doubt, an empty 27-13 fourth quarter victory for Adelaide made the final result more respectable, but Canberra would emerge clear-cut 20-point victors, taking the contest 85-65.

A stagnant first half for Adelaide dampened their efficiency from the floor, shooting 38 per cent from the field and only 62 per cent from the free-throw line. It was also critically hurtful in the rebounding department for the Lightning, ultimately losing the category 31-45. On the other hand, Canberra made their foes on the night pay with the result, following their splendid discipline in the paint and points off of offensive rebounds, compiling 36 and 21 points in each respective statistic. Finishing the night with 46 per cent shooting from the field and 88 per cent consistency from the line, the two-time defending champions had their best form on display last night to say the least.

Rocci led the way for the reigning premiers with 18 points and three assists in her 20 minutes of court time. Backing her up were co-captains Griffin (15 points, nine rebounds) and Tolo (12 points, four blocks and three rebounds), while Brittany Smart and Mikaela Ruef made valuable contributions in the process.

For Stephanie Talbot, it was another routine dominant performance with a game-high 21 points, eight rebounds and two steals, while fellow forward Chelsea Brook was the only other Lightning individual to clock up double-digit point totals with 14.

After their bounce back win, the Capitals will line-up in what will be a pivotal contest between two top-four sides as they face the Townsville Fire on Sunday night, while Adelaide looks to end their three-game slide and knock off a lowly Perth Lynx side hungry for some more good fortune the game after.

Lynx too hot for Fire, string together first back-to-back wins of the season

Alex Ciabattoni in action for Perth Lynx. Picture credit: WNBL

FOR the first time this season, the Perth Lynx have obtained back-to-back wins after their upset victory over the Townsville Fire. Strong first and final quarters were enough to fend off Shannon Seebohm’s squad after 40 minutes, squeezing out the win 84-75.

Both sides boasted blistering scoring totals in the initial quarter of the meeting, with the Lynx holding a slim 27-25 lead after 10 minutes despite both sides shooting over 50 per cent in a score heavy period.

It was clear that even though Perth was out of finals contention prior to tip off, Ryan Petrik’s side came to play last night as they moved the ball with exemplary precision in the first half and found their points in the paint.

The rate of scoring started to slow after the first break with each side’s conversion becoming scarcer after a high octane first. Perth maintained their slim lead heading into the half-time team talks by a mere four points, after both sides combined for just 25 points in the second.

Nevertheless, both sides still kept their shooting averages over 40 per cent with each team expressing similar numbers statistically. But for a side with two wins from nine outings, the Lynx were handling themselves extraordinarily well against a talented Townsville roster. Key performers in the first half for each squad included Alex Ciabattoni for the Lynx (13 points and four rebounds) and Lauren Nicholson (11 points and two rebounds), as both players showed off some lethal shooting by the midway point.

Many experts would have estimated somewhat of a comeback in the second half from Townsville, but the Lynx continued to pull away after half-time. Winning the third quarter 16-10 in another low-scoring term. As a result, Perth had themselves a solid 10-point buffer with time continuing to wind down in last night’s closer.

To the Fire’s credit, they made a couple of threatening scoring runs in the closing moments of the contest, getting to within six points at one stage. However, it would not be enough for one of this season’s hottest teams, as the Lynx would secure the upset win, their third of the season.

Quite simply it was Perth’s ability to convert from the field that got them over the line last night, shooting a remarkable 45 per cent through four quarters compared to Townsville’s 38 per cent. In addition, a plus-seven in rebounds and a plus-seven in assists gave Perth all the necessary tools to emerge victorious, coupled with the Fire‘s lack of presence in the key defensively.

Darcee Garbin further validated her international-level prowess alongside fellow Opal in Katie Ebzery, with Petrik’s star-duo scoring 21 points apiece and combining for 21 rebounds as well as eight assists. Ciabattoni also made a good impression, securing 18 points, five rebounds and three assists. Alex Sharp made a double-digit contribution with a modest 12 points and seven boards.

League MVP candidate Nicholson impressed those who tuned in with 28 points and five rebounds, as she tried to carry her team to a positive result. But only two of her teammates were impressive enough to try and make that a reality. The young duet of Zitina Aokuso and Shyla Heal worked for 11 points each as both had unexpectedly quiet nights yesterday evening.

Perth who for the first time this season have back-to-back victories under their belt will look to continue their good run of late, as a third straight win is a real possibility against the Adelaide Lightning, who they face on Sunday. Before this, however, the Fire will aim to avoid their third defeat in four clashes with a win against the two-time defending champion Canberra Capitals.

Southside hand Townsville third loss, Fire’s Nicholson leaves with nose injury

GOOD things eventually come to an end and in this instance, it was the Townsville Fire’s three-game winning streak at the mercy of the Southside Flyers, going down to the heavy-handed championship favourites 70-94, while being substantially undermanned.

A scrappy start from both sides led to a low scoring opening few minutes, but two quick fouls for Megan McKay earned her a quick spot on the bench for the rest of the first quarter. The Flyers started to connect on some of their shots as the first quarter rolled on, while Townsville struggled to pick up steam, trailing 4-16 after six minutes of play thanks to nine quick points from Liz Cambage. Not only did Southside’s superior opening period see them gain an 11-point lead, but also a hard blow to Lauren Nicholson’s nose resulting in the Fire losing a star point-guard for the rest of the game.

An And-One from Bec Cole to commence things in the second provided more encouraging signs for Cheryl Chambers and her players, however three straight successful trips up the floor for the Fire was the response Shannon Seebohm wanted to see following quarter time.

Townsville fended off more Southside success leading into the main break trailing only by eight points and winning the quarter 25-22. Down 34-42, the Fire were feeding off of Shyla Heal’s 15 points and three rebounds at this stage, while Nadeen Payne was doing her best to back Heal up with seven points and four boards. Alternatively, Cambage had herself 17 points in 16 first-half minutes next to Cole, who sat on 10 points and five assists at the mid-way point.

Losing Heal for a chunk of the third due to an elbow to the chest, the Fire did a good job of weathering the Flyers’ storm. But a triple from Jenna O’Hea midway through the third quarter signified the gradual expansion of her side’s lead in the second half putting Southside up by 16 with a quarter left to play in Saturday’s opener.

A relatively uneventful final quarter ensued as Southside started to push their advantage towards the 20-point mark and Townsville struggled to cope while running on limited players. As both sides introduced their secondary units in the dying moments of the contest, Southside routinely concluded matters by running out 24-point winners and ending Townsville’s three-game winning streak.

Shooting over 50 per cent throughout all four quarters, Southside was hard to stop from knocking down their shots, particularly down low (48 points in the paint) and from the free-throw-line (14 from 17). The Flyers also held onto the ball well, only turning over the ball eight times the whole game.

Cambage maintained her reputation as a prolific post presence, contributing 26 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while going 75 per cent from the field. Meanwhile, Cole was the next best thing with her 19 points and eight assists. Leilani Mitchell was not a massive presence on the scoreboard, but she certainly facilitated the ball at a high rate finishing with nine assists under her belt.

Heal had another impressive outing racking up a team-high 17 points, four rebounds and three assists, a major talking point for Townsville’s disappointing outcome. But more impressively, were the combined efforts of two of the WNBL’s best auxiliary players. Firstly, 15 points in 26 minutes off the bench for Stephanie Reid provided merit for a top performance from the losing side, whereas Courtney Woods accumulated a modest 11 points in her efforts yesterday afternoon.

Both teams hit the hardwood again in 24 hours, as Southside looks to knock the Adelaide Lightning out of the top four with a second triumph in as many days. While, the Fire look to re-establish themselves as a favourable finals nominee against a Sydney Uni Flames unit that is hungry to climb the standings.

Lightning hit back with statement win

Pic: WNBL

IMPROVING their record to four wins and one loss, the Adelaide Lighting have reiterated the fact that they are a formidable side, after extinguishing the Sydney Uni Flames 75-53, following a one-sided second half and a 30-point masterclass from early MVP-candidate Stephanie Talbot.

Transition points and a quick start from Sydney saw them run the floor well and capitalise on fast break offence early on, but the Lightning had other ideas for how the opening term would end, following a 7-0 run four minutes in for Adelaide. Riding off on their scoring run and four lead changes in the first quarter, Adelaide held a commanding 20 to 12 lead, with Talbot a large presence early having seven points and four rebounds after 10 minutes.

After an extended quarter-time break due to technical difficulties at the Cairns Pop-Up Arena, both teams lost momentum on the scoreboard. Neither side got off a field goal for two and a half minutes, until this trend was upended following a beautiful backdoor cut from Sydney’s Lauren Mansfield.

Baskets became more frequent from both sides prior to half-time and the Flames made some significant headway in the half’s few remaining minutes after two buckets each from Funda Nakkasoglu and Nat Burton, cutting the deficit to only six points at the main break, 32-26.

It was the Talbot show in the opening 20 minutes, with the 26-year-old putting up 15 points during that time and seven rebounds to add to that. While Adelaide had few players with big scoring totals, the Flames had low scoring numbers across multiple individuals with all of their starters converting on shots. The former Opal in Burton led the way with eight points while Alison Schwagmeyer proved her mettle on the glass with seven rebounds in the initial two quarters.

A tit-for-tat beginning was the best way to describe the early moments of the second half, as both sides remained level six minutes into the third phase. However, four pivotal scores from Abigail Wehrung, Talbot who had two of those, and Marena Whittle gave the Lightning a nine-point buffer at what seemed like a turning point in a clash that had little room for errors. A beautiful drive and dish from Ally Wilson to Ella Batish and a fast-break layup by Talbot capped off a 13-0 run for Chris Lucas’ roster and put control of the game firmly in their possession before three-quarter-time, leading 53-41.

Adelaide ballooned their lead out to 25 points long into the middle stages of the final stanza scoring 17 of the first 19 points, as the Flames had no answer for their opponents late in the game. The Lightning’s bench completed the emphatic final period, culminating in a dominant 22-point blowout, reaffirming Adelaide as a serious contender among the League’s ranks.

With the Lightning holding the Flames to 27 per cent shooting efficiency they were able to provide themselves ample opportunity to pull away later in the game given that they converted their shots, which they did by shooting 42 per cent. A plus-11 in assists and a plus-12 in fast break points was a product of the way  coach Lucas’ side worked as a cohesive unit pushing the ball up the other end of the court after Sydney Uni’s missed shots.

Another standout performance from likely MVP candidate Talbot rattled another opponent’s roster, with the small forward racking up 30 points, 12 rebounds and three assists, while being fouled a game-high five times. Wehrung was the only other Lightning individual with double-digit totals, finishing with 11 points by way of three triples. Chelsea Brook contributed eight points and five rebounds, while Batish tallied seven of her own.

Scoring just 53 total game points, Adelaide’s shooting success was few and far between, with Burton being the only player to accumulate over 10 points – she finished with 14 points and a pair of rebounds. Meanwhile, Anneli Maley (seven points and eight rebounds) and Mansfield (seven points and four assists) had quiet nights respectively as neither of them were able to make a substantial imprint on the game.

Sydney Uni and Adelaide return later today to face another two teams who are completing back-to-back fixtures. The Lightning have their work cut out for them if they are to try and slow down the Southside Flyers, who just recently beat the Townsville Fire in convincing style. This brings us to the Flames’ opponents later today, looking to regain lost ground in the standings against the Fire in Round Three’s final game.

Caps keep the good times rolling, extend winning streak to seven

Pic: WNBL

THE longest winning streak of WNBL20 this season continues for the University of Canberra Capitals, as the two-time defending champions extended their litany of victories to seven straight, flattening the Bendigo Spirit in last night’s closer 51-87, rounding off the third of three one-sided contests over the first half of the weekend.

A close contest for the majority of the first period, it seemed as though both sides would be within a possession of each other at the first intermission. However, seven-straight points in the last 60 seconds of the term for the Capitals saw the reigning champions lead 20-12 after 10 minutes, highlighted by a buzzer beating corner three from Brittany Smart.

It seemed early on that the only visible scorer on Tracy York’s side was Tessa Lavey early in the second, who had eight points midway through the period. But numerous participants for the Capitals were finding looks of their own. Starting the second quarter on a 12-4 run, Canberra’s starting five and the extra boost given by former Sydney Uni Flame Tahlia Tupaea, quickly lathered on the points against the Spirit prior to half-time.

Outscoring Bendigo 22-9 in the second period, the Capitals were able to produce two-times the amount of points as their opponents in the first half, leading 42-21 at the midway point. However, given their history against lower-ranked sides Paul Goriss reiterated the notion of playing hard for all four quarters to his side at the main break.

With all five of Canberra starters manufacturing valuable contributions in the first half, it was evident that the Capitals were seeking a team-based win, which was pointed out by their eight assists through two quarters.

Canberra’s lone problem was clearly slowing down Australian Opal in Lavey, who had 13 points in all 20 minutes of the opening half, the only multiple field goal scorer for the Spirit prior to the third quarter, as the side failed to efficiently convert on their scoring attempts only shooting 17 per cent.

The Spirit kicked off the second half with a fast-paced brand of basketball, scoring three of the first four buckets for both teams, but that would be the extent of the good news following this. After making an adjustment on the defensive end, the Capitals turned the momentum in their favour once again and this time for good.

Earning themselves a 33-point buffer at the end of the third term, 37-70, the third game of yesterday’s triple-header looked like it was going finish in familiar fashion to the previous two meetings – a blowout.

This fate for the two sides came to fruition as Canberra completed the four-quarter sweep in Townsville and ultimately the 37-point landslide victory, earning their seventh straight win in the process and putting themselves a game ahead of the Southside Flyers on the WNBL ladder.

Shots just did not fall for the Spirit, who now fall to a winless record of zero wins and eight losses at the middle point of the season. Making 17 shots from 63 attempts (26 per cent) and giving up 36 points in the paint, Bendigo really disadvantaged themselves when it came to Canberra’s depth and team chemistry. Whereas the Capitals made a sizeable 44 per cent rate of their shots along with 22 assists in what was a complete team-effort.

Not a single Capitals player scored more than 15 points, highlighting just how distributed the scoring load was for UC. Leading the side, however, was Marianna Tolo with her 14 points and six rebounds, while Maddison Rocci backed up her captain with 12 points and three assists. Keely Froling and Tupaea each finished their nights with 10 points. For the Spirit, only Lavey was able to crack a double-digit scoring total, but severely slowed her level of production in the second half where she accounted for only four of her 17 points.

The Caps line up again on Tuesday against the Melbourne Boomers in a much-anticipated top-four matchup that will see a semi-final rematch of last season. On the other hand, Bendigo will face off with fellow bottom of the ladder side the Perth Lynx, perhaps the Spirit’s most likely chance at gaining their first win of the season.

Draft Central’s 2019/20 WNBL Top 10 Players: #7 – Stephanie Talbot

WHEN former WNBL Rookie of the Year and Opal Steph Talbot made the move back to the Adelaide Lightning after more than five seasons, head coach Chris Lucas had the recipe for a championship run. Beginning the season 3-1, the Lightning were starting to prove their mettle and with this, Talbot started to establish her position as one of the most dangerous and productive forwards in the league, securing two 10 rebound double-doubles in her first five matchups.

As the season went on, it became clear that the competition was quite clearly divided into two sections. After 21 games, the Lightning who sat very nicely in fourth position with a record of 12 wins and nine losses, trailed the Melbourne Boomers by three games and led the Perth Lynx by four. After a successful season for the team, the success carried over to Talbot as well, as the six-foot two forward would put up an impressive 13.8-point, 8.7-rebound (fifth in the WNBL) and 4.9-assist (sixth in the WNBL) 2020 season.

Talbot provided so much on the defensive end for her squad, that she even ranked amongst the top 10 league leaders in the category of steals, averaging 1.5 per outing. While Talbot would attain a selection to the All-WNBL Second Team, the Lightning would look towards the best team in the League at that point in the semi-finals, the Southside Flyers. Talbot would arrive to Game One in Dandenong ready to put in work, as she would provide the Lightning with an all-around effort, stringing together 13 points while shooting 43 per cent from the field, alongside nine rebounds, six assists and three steals.

But, despite her performance, the Lightning would fall to the minor premiers in the opening game of the series, 68-65, and as a consequence, the Lightning would need to defend home-court to stay alive. The Flyers, however, had good reason to being named the best offence in the league, as their depth proved too much for the Lightning, taking out Game Two by three points again, 79-82, making Talbot’s nine points, nine rebounds and eight assists in the game a side note in the series.

With the Lightning’s season coming to an early end, Talbot’s prospects began to open up following this. Just a few weeks ago, the Katherine-born 2014 WNBA-draftee, was traded from the Minnesota Lynx to the New York Liberty for the upcoming WNBA season, as she is on the roster as ‘non-active’, given the COVID-19 restrictions.

Nevertheless, Talbot adds to the vast collection of Australian superstars competing in the United States in the near future and sits nicely as number eight in Draft Central’s Top 10 players of the 2020 season.

Draft Central’s Top 10 2019/20 WNBL memorable moments: #3 – Nicole Seekamp’s 20-assist game

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

#3 Nicole Seekamp’s 20-assist game

The Adelaide Lightning captain had one of the most memorable games on record when Adelaide hosted Southside Flyers early in the new year. The Lightning welcomed the top-of-the-table Flyers to Titanium Security Arena on January 5, with the mid-table logjam very much alive and the home team needing a win to provide some security on their finals aspirations. With import, Kathryn Westbeld providing some crucial support to the experienced Lauren Nicholson and Brianna Turner, and Stephanie Talbot in ripping form, Seekamp was leading a strong core five who were the underdogs for the season.

They showed just what they could do on their home court on that particular afternoon, coming from a point down at quarter time to tighten the screws and pile on 35 points to 22 in the second term and race away to a 12-point lead at the main break. Southside hit back to cut it to 11 at the final break, but both teams scored 18 in the final stanza for the Lightning to get up, 104-93. Three of her teammates scored more than 20 points, with Turner (25 and nine rebounds), Nicholson (24, five rebounds and four assists) and Westbeld (22 and five rebounds), but it was Seekamp who caught all the attention. She only put up the 10 points, but had a remarkable 20 assists – of her team’s total 37 – to guide the Lightning’s offence.

To put the performance in perspective, Turner only had six less assists than the entire Southside team, and along with Talbot (seven points, eight assists and seven rebounds), worked the ball forward with precision and skill. The win was a confidence booster for Seekamp and the Lightning, and whilst their season would ultimately end at the same venue against the same opponent later in the season, the captain’s effort on that afternoon would not be forgotten. Seekamp played all 22 games, averaging 11 points, eight assists, four rebounds and one steal per game in season 2019/20.

Top 10 WNBL 2019/20 moments countdown so far:

#10 – Ezi Magbegor wins second Rookie of the Year award
#9 – Bendigo Spirit breaks road drought
#8 – Mercedes Russell stars in debut season
#7 – Southside’s flying first season
#6 – Back-to-back overtime victories shape finals series
#5 – Southside Flyers’ road win against UC Capitals
#4 – Kia Nurse wins MVP after sensational season
#3 – Nicole Seekamp’s 20-assist game

2019/20 WNBL season review: Melbourne Boomers

IT was a solid season for the Melbourne Boomers who made it all the way to finals, but fell at the last hurdle against a rampaging University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. While they were strong at home winning seven out of 10 games, their ability to win on the road made them a formidable outfit notching up eight wins. Despite their best efforts it was simply not enough to take the final leap into the grand final.

Ladder: 3rd
Win-loss: 15-6

Before the beginning of the season, Boomer fans were up and about. Coming off a playoff run that ended in the semi finals, Melbourne added a whole lot of talent to the roster in hope to go one better and claim that all elusive premiership. Stella Beck was coming off a noteworthy NBL1 season collecting 10 rebounds a night, making her a handy inclusion in the side. Boomer fans were similarly eager to find out if Americans, Sophie Cunningham and Rachel Brewster, were up for the challenge and ready to guide their side to victory. Both coming out of American colleges, the WNBL would certainly be quite the adjustment. Fans were also looking forward to seeing the development of Antonia Farnworth, who had some much needed experience with the Hawks in the NBL1. Although, one question that was never answered all season was how would Paige Price go in an WNBL game. The six foot tall, 16 year old ‘prodigy’ got moved up to the senior level after a great season in the NBL1 with the Basketball Australia Centre of Excellence averaging 7.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. But the rising star only entered one game for limited minutes. With such a fresh roster, the Boomers did have to say goodbye to some key contributors such as former captain Jenna O’Hea, who took her talents to Southside, as well as Stephanie Talbot who departed for the Lightning. Richmond AFLW star Monique Conti left midway through the season to focus on her football club leaving a sizeable hole in their roster considering the impact she had off the bench. They also parted ways with Sarah Boothe and Jazmin Shelley, both in pursuit of playing overseas. 

After just coming short of playing in the grand final, the new faces added a certain level of confidence that the team could get over the line in 2020. Led by one of the most decorated and experienced coaches in WNBL history, Guy Molloy had a challenge on his hands. With O’Hea gone, the team had Madeleine Garrick to look up to as team captain. All season long, the Boomers were in good hands as the two-time WNBL champion could not be left open, draining 52 three pointers. Garrick was a major reason why the Boomers were first for steals in the league, swiping the ball off opponents 1.8 times a night, which was only tied with Cayla George. Ezi Magbegor, George and Cunningham would make up a stellar trio on offence, all averaging over 11 points a game. But Lindsay Allen would be the recognised star of this season. At only five foot eight, Allen starred averaging 14.8 points a night, the team’s most. The Boomers have plenty of depth, with more than one choice on the fast break, but this abundance of options can be costly at times with players looking to share the load rather than just take control. Renowned for their team like mentality it was sometimes their downfall, often over sharing the ball which resulted in turnovers. 

But the Boomer’s might just have their future superstar already.  At only 20-years-old, and standing at six foot four, Magbegor won Youth Player of the Year this season, for her second time. An award handed to the most outstanding young player in the league. The award has been given to the likes of four-time MVP, Lauren Jackson which if that is any indication, means big things ahead for Magbegor who is only at the beginning of her career. The scoring load was evenly shared between their stars as reflected in the league scoreboard with no player making it inside the top 10 points scorers for the season but that did not stop them from marching into finals and snatching one win off eventual premiers, the UC Capitals. Melbourne had a season for the ages and while the finals loss will linger it is fair to say that the Boomers are well and truly building towards something if they can keep that winning momentum going heading into season 2020/21. 

2019/20 WNBL season review: Adelaide Lightning 

LED by veteran coach Chris Lucas, Adelaide Lightning fell agonisingly short of the big dance, going down by three points to the Southside Flyers in both semi-finals. The Lightning made their case well and truly known in season 2019/20 with some hard fought wins to set them up for a finals berth, but in the end they lacked that final piece of the puzzle to get them over the line.

Ladder: 4th
Win-loss: 12-9

The Lightning made noise early in the offseason, acquiring Stephanie Talbot, a quintessential weapon stripped off the Melbourne Boomers. To accompany Talbot, the Lightning added Crystal Langhorne to the roster who was arguably the most talked about signing felt around the entire league. Fresh off winning a championship in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), the two-time WNBA all star matched the expectations in her first game. Scoring 20 points and grabbing 13 rebounds, while shooting 100 per cent from three-point range. Knee soreness plagued the rest of her season with doctors ruling her out after confirming she aggravated a pre-existing knee injury and would not return for the season forcing Adelaide to dig deep without her. 

Brianna Turner did her best to pick up the slack, leading the team with 16.8 points a game while averaging 10.7 rebounds, second to only Kelsey Griffin of the Capitals (excluding Langhorne). Behind Turner for the Lightning followed Lauren Nicholson with 14.2, Talbot with 13.8 and Nicole Seekamp with 11 points a game. Everyone lifted their load to make up ground Langhorne had left, and they surprisingly were doing just that, winning three of the first four games. A big reason for the teams immediate sense of harmony was because of Seekamp, who was at the top of her game, dishing eight assists a night; a league high. However she was also quite costly with ball in hand, leading the league in turnovers, with 4.2 a game.  Another reason for their post-Langhorne success was the crafty dynamism of Seekamp and Nicholson. One of the most famous pairs in the WNBL, captain Seekamp called their recognised connection “telepathy”, and this season was no different. The duo did a great job leading and pushing the team all the way to the playoffs, but unfortunately what they did on offence did not make up for the team’s shortcomings on defence. Lightning were ranked in the bottom three for steals, which unfortunately did not bode well for playoffs unable to generate enough turnover ball.  

The Lightning also signed Natalie Hurst and Laura Hodges, two 36-year-old veterans to act as role models for the younger players. Their influence was handy for young players like Sarah Elsworthy, Chelsea Brook and even Turner helping to set the tone and standard for the team. But even on the court their significance this season cannot be downplayed. Hurst and Hodges were spectacular late in games in more ways than people notice or at least give credit for. They were never raddled, they knew the right play, and they knew what to say to the younger players to get the best out of them. These are the things a team can only obtain from experienced players. Missing out on that championship banner by the margin they did was painful, but the way this team never stopped fighting after losing what was supposedly their best player in the opening round is commendable. This season should not be looked down upon by Lightning fans. 

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

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

Adelaide Lightning (79) defeated Southside Flyers (82)

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

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

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

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

2019/20 WNBL preview: Semi-finals – Flyers a win away from grand final as Lightning look to even series

GAME 2 of the semi-finals between Adelaide Lightning and Southside Flyers will help decide which team progresses through to the next stage of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) finals.

Adelaide Lightning v. Southside Flyers

After a disappointing three-point loss, Adelaide Lightning play host to an in-form Flyers outfit that will be looking to inflict more pain on opposition this season. The Lightning will be hoping to draw on the home crowd advantage with the boisterous fans spurring them on at every point. The home side had their chances in their first clash but simply let it slip away when it counted while the Flyers on the other hand capitalised on every tiny error.

It was a relatively even match-up throughout Game 1 of the semi-final series with both sides posting similar numbers on the scoreboard and shooting at around the 36 per cent mark from the field highlighting just how evenly poised both sides were. The Lightning reaped in the rewards of their bench players outscoring their opponents 16 to seven showcasing just how dangerous they can be and the variety of options they have when going to basket. Another key difference proved to be the points in the paint (32-40) with the Flyers unable to convert in close but sinking them from down town sitting at 35.3 per cent while the Lightning lingered at 22. 2 per cent instead, doing most of their damage up close and personal.

The Flyers will have the belief that they can stand up to the pressure and whatever the Lightning throw at them having rode the wave only two days ago. Three players recorded double figures for Southside in their narrow win with Mercedes Russell leading the scoreboard assault with 20. Russell was unstoppable at both ends of the court racking up a huge 19 rebounds to accompany her 20 points to reel in yet another double-double and guide her side to a hard-fought victory an effort she will be hoping to replicate in her second semi-final. Teammate Rebecca Cole was just as handy posting up 13 points of her own and showcasing her rebounding knack with six and an impressive four steals. Leilani Mitchell was solid knocking back 15 points while Sara Blicavs had a relatively quiet game by her lofty standards an area she will want to rectify coming into this clash.

With the loss still fresh in their mind expect the Lightning to come out firing and most importantly with a point to prove. They have the talent and the depth to topple the highly touted Flyers having done it previously in the season and will be looking to knock them off their perch with the likes of Lauren Nicholson and Stephanie Talbot at the helm. Both have proven they can tear a game wide open with their strength and commitment. Import Brianna Turner fell just short of another double-double last game recording 11 points and nine rebounds but considering that was one of her quiet games could kick it up a whole other level in front of her home crowd. Throw in the likes of Chelsea Brooks and Kathryn Westbeld who had strong showings in their last encounter and the Lightning might just have what it takes to get the win.

If the Flyers are to get over the top of Lightning once again, they will have to shut down their bench players’ ability to come on and have an impact while continuing to attack the basket themselves. On the other hand, the Lightning must limit the Flyers second chances under the ring and deny any easy avenues to goal.

WNBL Semi-final 1 review: Southside escapes slow start to run out three-point winners in Dandenong

MINOR premiers, Southside Flyers are a win away from a 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final place after downing Adelaide Lightning by three points at Dandenong Stadium last night. Given Southside’s strength at its home court and Adelaide’s less-than-ideal road record, the Flyers were heavily fancied to move through to the season decider without too much fuss.

Unfortunately for the home fans, the visiting team was not on board with the script and came out all-guns blazing in the first term, piling on 25 points to 17 to race out to an eight-point lead at the first break. The Flyers made inroads back into the contest in the second term with a 17-14 quarter and drew within five at half-time. Needing a special effort in the second half, the Southside team that everyone had come to know returned to the court, powering its way to a massive 22-7 term, restricting the Lightning in every way possible to go from a five-point deficit to a huge 10-point lead at the final break. Adelaide was determined not to give up however, as the Lightning hit back in the final term, drawing within five points midway through the term, but the firepower of the premiership favourites gave the home team some breathing space. Leading by 10 points with less than four minutes on the clock, the Flyers looked home and hosed, but one last effort from the visitors resulted in them scoring eight of the last nine points to get within three, but ultimately fall short, 68-65.

Center, Mercedes Russell again stood tall for the Flyers, having a ridiculous game of 20 points and 19 rebounds, with an even spread of 11 defensive and eight offensive, while also picking up three assists and a steal in a clear best-on-court performance. She was not alone however, as Leilani Mitchell – who shot a crucial three midway through the final term to draw within five points – finished with 15 points, four assists, two rebounds and a steal. Rebecca Cole also reached double-figure points with 13, as well as six rebounds, four assists and four steals in a real team effort. Elsewhere, Anneli Maley‘s effort of the bench was strong, only recording four points, but having seven rebounds, a steal and block on the night. Sara Blicavs had a quieter night with nine points, but had five rebounds, two steals and an assist.

For the Lightning, Lauren Nicholson stepped up as one would expect from a player with her experience, finishing with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Stephanie Talbot (13 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three steals) was unsurprisingly Adelaide’s best, as Brianna Turner (11 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and two assists) was also strong. In terms of scoring, the other player of note was Chelsea Brook coming off the bench to contribute 11 points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal, while Nicole Seekamp had four points, but five rebounds and five assists.

With Southside holding a 1-0 lead in the three-game series, Adelaide will try and force a deciding third game if the Lightning can get up at home when the teams face off at Titanium Security Arena on Saturday night from 7pm.