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.

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