IT was a big round of basketball with several close finishes. The Lynx continued their impressive form, the Flames continued to struggle, and a tight battle between two in-form sides saw the Melbourne Boomers narrowly go down to the Bendigo Spirit.
Sydney Uni Flames (62) defeated by Perth Lynx (78)
In a battle of first place versus last place, the win-less Sydney Uni Flames hosted the red-hot Perth Lynx in what looked like a total mismatch on paper. The game went as expected, with the Lynx exerting their dominance and running out 16-point winners to win their fourth straight after falling in their opener. On the flip side, this handed Sydney its fifth loss in as many games, firmly entrenched on the bottom of the ladder. The Flames continue to be extremely reliant on their starters, with their bench producing only six points the entire game, as their lack of depth has continually left them struggling at the beginning of the year. Asia Taylor was quiet by her usual lofty standards for Perth, but she still produced a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Katie Ebzery led the way for the Lynx, scoring 22 points.
Dandenong Rangers (75) defeated by Melbourne Boomers (101)
Two teams with completely opposite beginnings to the season met on Saturday afternoon when the Rangers, winners of their first two encounters before losing their next two, hosted the Boomers, who had won their previous two games after dropping their first two. The Boomers continue to develop chemistry with each passing week and it was on full display as they put on an offensive clinic, shooting 57 per cent from the field for the game and scoring over 100 points for the first time this season. Steph Talbot was on fire from start to finish, scoring 27 points to go along with the strong contributions of Lindsay Allen and Maddie Garrick, who each put in 18 points. The Rangers played well offensively, almost shooting 50 per cent in their own right, but it was the defensive end of the ball that ultimately destroyed their hopes of victory. The Boomers registered their third straight victory as they continued their push towards the top of the ladder, while the Rangers find themselves in seventh place, falling short for the third consecutive game.
Bendigo Spirit (70) defeated Adelaide Lightning (52)
Two teams who had shown glimpses of greatness throughout the first four games went to battle, with both hoping to get their record above .500 with a win. The Spirit’s defensive tenacity was on full display, as they were able to completely shut Adelaide’s offence down, holding the Lightning to under 30% from the field and just 52 points for the entire game. As well as their great defensive performance, the Spirit’s balance offensively was a huge factor in earning the victory. Four players scored in double figures, led by Natalie Hurst’s 14 points and Rebecca Tobin’s 13 points as the two also registered double figures in rebounds. Adelaide’s offence struggled outside of Nia Coffey, whose consistency to start the season has been a bright spot for the team.
Townsville Fire (71) defeated by Perth Lynx (79)
In one of the closer games of the round, the Townsville Fire and Perth Lynx battled it out in a tough contest. The Fire put together a strong performance, but their inability to take care of the ball hurt them as Perth got a number of extra offensive possessions due to the high numbers of turnovers. Suzy Batkovic continued her terrific start to the season with yet another double-double (23 points and 12 rebounds), as well as great rim protection on defence to make Perth’s life difficult inside. Brittany McPhee and Asia Taylor starred for the Lynx, combining for 38 points and 17 rebounds as they won their fifth consecutive game and continue their unbeaten streak away from home and increased their lead atop the ladder.
UC Capitals (84) defeated Sydney Uni Flames (79)
The winless Flames hit the road to take on the Capitals, who had dropped just one game to this point. The Flames appeared to be on track to record a huge upset win after building a minor lead in the first quarter, but the class of the Capitals shone through in the second, as they wrestled control of the game back. The two teams fought hard for the remainder of the game, but it was the Capitals who eventually pulled away and got the victory, dropping the Flames to 0-6. All five starters scored in double figures for the Capitals in a total team effort, while the Flames again struggled to find a balanced scoring effort on offence. Brittany Smart and Belinda Snell both scored 16, however their lack of production from the second unit proved costly, as evidenced by the dominant second term for the Capitals.
Melbourne Boomers (58) defeated by Bendigo Spirit (60)
Two teams with three wins and two losses from their first five games met in the final game of the round on Monday night, looking to create separation and move into third place on the ladder. Defence was the story of the day as both teams were held to under 25 points in the second half as the teams were able to successfully shut the opposing offence down. Steph Talbot still impressed for the Boomers, with her second consecutive 20-point game, as she registered 21 point. Teammate, Cayla George added 14 points, as the two combined for more than half of Melbourne’s points. The Spirit also had big contributions from Natalie Hurst, who scored 25 points and Nadeen Payne, who scored 12 points, as they also combined for more than half of their side’s points. Both sides had plenty of chances to close out the game down the stretch, however turnovers and missed shots for the Boomers would prove costly as the Spirit made the big baskets when necessary to record a narrow two-point win.