Lightning welcome Lynx in Lights thriller
A WNBL game laden with WNBA, Opals and Gold Medallists delivered on all fronts as the Adelaide Lightning hit the front then held their nerve in a pulsating final quarter 88-86 at the “House of Lightning” Sunday afternoon.
A WNBL game laden with WNBA, Opals and Gold Medallists delivered on all fronts as the Adelaide Lightning hit the front then held their nerve in a pulsating final quarter 88-86 at the “House of Lightning” Sunday afternoon. Alanna Smith again was the finisher amassing a double double of 25 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocked shots along with Steph Talbot who missed a triple double with 19 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists. The game also featured the debut of Dallas Wings Marina Mabrey who hit the league with a blitz of 30 points including 7 triples plus 5 rebounds,
THE WRAP Q BY Q
Mabrey welcomed herself to the WNBL with a bucket with Kylee Shook opening the Lightning’s scoring only to have it cease as Mabrey dropped eight in the opening two minutes forcing timeout. Opals Lauren Scherf and Darcee Garbin resumed proceedings of the 2-16 run before Shook broke the run with a deuce followed by Alanna Smith making her move. Sami Whitcomb welcomed herself back with an open tre, then Smith answered again with Talbot grabbing and1 and a coast to coast to make it an 11-3 run of their own and scores 13-19. NBL1 West MVP Alex Sharp dropped a triple with Smith causing problems early for the Lynx front court at both ends. Mabrey then dropped another step back with the Lightning closing it to 19-25 after being jumped at the start by the Wings star.
Shook opened with a catch on the inside before Garbin made a triple then Mabrey finished the layup to make it a 0-5 run to start the second. Smith grabbed an offensive rebound to whip it to Talbot which broke the run. Mabrey continued to be a problem but Shook and Kiana Williams added to the WNBA talent show to cut it back to 32-34. Mabrey despite her 18 points was frustrated and pinged with a technical foul as the Lightning fought their way back into the contest with Williams stamping that further with another triple. Pressure was further enhanced with a five second inbound violation on both sides before Scherf then Whitcomb combined cutting to the hoop with timeout to Lightning. Smith cut it again, Sharp extended it before Marena Whittle on her old club then splashed a long one. A floater on the buzzer to the Las Vegas Aces Jackie Young opened her account for the season with it 43-48 at the half.
Garbin opened with a triple in the third then Young finished an easy cut before Whitcomb hit the stepback triple to make it another 0-8 run and timeout to Chris Lucas. Scherf continued to make it hard, but Williams was fighting hard for the home side with a couple of buckets with Talbot’s strike from the corner cutting it back to 53-60 with timeout to Ryan Petrik and the Lynx. Shook then did that to her opponent, Smith dealed more damage with Young then hitting back herself. Chelsea Brook then hit a monster triple to get it back to 60-62 with Whittle then tying the scores. Brook went again engaging scoring mode before the captain of the Lynx Garbin drained the triple on the buzzer to make it 64-69 at three quarter time.
A Triple to Talbot opened the last, then Brook continued to engage scoring mode with Abbey Wehrung grabbing her first points of the afternoon to give the Lightning the lead for the first time in the match. Mabrey then peeled off another triple, Talbot deuced up followed by Whitcomb with Garbin pulling up off a team offensive board to make it 73-79. Brook drained a triple after the timeout to Lightning to readjust which started the run. Talbot knocked down a triple to tie it 79-79, Smith put them in front with Scherf missing the next one by a long way feeling the pressure of the Lightning and the raucous “House” crowd. Smith got them up elated further draining an outrageously long three shouting with glee 84-79. Smith denied Young as they won possession back, Williams lost the handle but Whittle hustled hard to win the rock back. The Lightning couldn’t capitalise on the next possession with Mabrey draining the big-time triple and was fouled by Whittle for the and1 which she converted. Brook then cut to the bucket to make it 86-83 before Lynx won an o-board with Mabrey draining a huge triple to tie it again 86-86 with 15 seconds left. Brook missed the jumper but the huge eleventh rebound for the number 11 from Smith and a cool hand at the free throw line put them out by 88-86. Lynx tried to find Scherf to the cup but she fumbled the ball and Lightning winning possession and no doubt one of the games of this season already 88-86.
THE MOMENTS LIGHTNING STRUCK
– The Lightning fought back into the contest after Mabrey blitzed them with a 4-16 start with an 11 – 6 second five minutes built on points in the paint at 66.7 percent and 9 rebounds and 5 assists
- The opening half again was dominated by Smith with 16 points, 5 rebounds at 63.6 percent from the field and an efficiency of 18.
- The 24-17 last quarter was enough to get the Lightning across the line including a final 15-9 last five minutes.
- In that final quarter the Lightning grabbed 14 rebounds (including 4 offensive), 8 assists, 3 steals and shot 47 percent from the field to dominate the close.
- The Lightning were in front for only 3:38 but in the finish it was just enough.
THE PLAYERS VIEW
Kylee Shook was one of the key components of the game Sunday and her team knew coming in that they’d have to adjust to what Perth threw at them particularly after Mabrey’s start. “That game was a lot of fun with lots of WNBA talent out there, we needed to be more aggressive on defence and not foul her with her quick release and good shot, we defended her the best we could we know she’s an amazing three-point shooter.
Shook did have an inkling and some idea of the last few plays the Lynx would run to get the finishing bucket. “We thought they might try get it into her (Scherf), they were looking for that and1 and we did on that last one managed to make her fumble that one out of bounds.” The crowd was clearly a factor that helped the home side get across the finish line, a sentiment shared by Shook and the team. “I think the crowd was very important in the finish to that one, its nice when the environment is loud and it on your side.” Shook said about the raucously loud home crowd in the house.
WHEN THE NEXT STRIKE COMES
The Townsville Fire are up next this coming Friday night and Shook shared that the team were very keen to get back the loss in the first game of the season by bringing the same intensity and drive we saw this afternoon. “It’ll be a good game going down to their house and we definitely want to bring it to them this week.”
Its important for the Lightning to keep this momentum rolling but for those who were lucky enough to get a seat this afternoon, this game will live in the memories of many of its spectators as a genuine spectacle worth the price of admission and seeing the league’s stars live. Make sure you don’t miss the next home game as the euphoria, the intensity, the big plays and the class of this one will be recalled for years to come.
ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 88 (Smith 25, Talbot 19, Brook 14, Shook 12, Williams 11) DEFEATED PERTH LYNX 86 (Mabrey 30, Garbin 15, Whitcomb 13, Scherf 10, Young 9) at the Lights Community and Sports Centre