Bec Cole and Mercedes Russell set it up and Leilani Mitchell closed the deal as the Southside Flyers remained clear on top of the WNBL after a comfortable 90-75 win over the Perth Lynx on Friday night.
It’s the start of a challenging road double in Round 12 for the league-leading Flyers, but it was a perfect start as they led from start to finish at the Bendat Basketball Centre to beat the Lynx by 15 points.
Every time the Lynx tried to make a charge, the Flyers had the answers, most notably early in the third where, after back-to-back Perth threes, Southside answered with a 9-0 run from Cole and Russell.
Then in the fourth, when Alison Schwagmeyer-Belger tried to inspire Perth with seven quick points, it was Mitchell who hit eight points in just over two minutes to seal the deal.
Nevertheless, for the first three quarters, it was Cole on the perimeter and Russell inside that were the difference. Cole finished with 30 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists in a phenomenal display that included 13/16 shooting. Russell had 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Mitchell also finished with 18 points for the Flyers.
As in last week’s loss, Katie Ebzery again top-scored for the Lynx, this time with 20 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists; Schwagmeyer-Belger and Nadeen Payne also scored 12 points apiece.
With Leilani Mitchell hitting two early triples from outside and Mercedes Russell proving tough to stop inside, the Flyers opened up an 18-10 advantage in the 1st quarter. But to the Lynx’s credit, they worked back into it, starting with threes from Schwagmeyer-Belger and Ebzery.
When Lauren Mansfield scored four quick points too to make the margin a single point, the Lynx were back in the game, even though the quarter ended 25-29 the Flyers’ way.
However, Cole hit Southside’s first 6 points to start the 2nd term and then a 6-0 run stretched the visitors’ lead back out to nine. The Lynx did well to limit the damage, but the Flyers’ threes to close the half from Jenna O’Hea and Cole had them up 52-46 at the main break.
Unperturbed, the Lynx threatened to take the lead early in the 3rd quarter when Ariel Atkins and Nadeen Payne drained threes, making the margin 1 point. It was the Flyers who responded once again though, this time with an impressive 9-0 run – Russell hitting 4 of them and Cole 5 – aptly summing up the story of the night.
While the Flyers were only up 7 by after three quarter-time, any hopes of a Lynx comeback were scuppered after Leilani Mitchell helped ice the game with 8 points in the last quarter, ensuring the Flyers started this weekend’s road double with a victory.
The Lynx no longer have to travel to Canberra to play the Capitals on Sunday due to the devastating bushfire situation, meaning their next game is now on Sunday week, back at home against the Bendigo Spirit.
The Flyers head straight to Adelaide to play the Lightning on Sunday, in what promises to be a tantalising match up.
WNBL ROUND 12
PERTH LYNX 75 (Ebzery 20, Schwagmeyer-Belger 12, Payne 12)
SOUTHSIDE FLYERS 90 (Cole 30, Mitchell 18, Russell 15)