The playoff teams for 2018/19 have been decided with the Lynx and Lightning officially booking their spots alongside the Caps and Boomers this weekend. While their post-season hopes were dashed, Dandenong still impressed with two victories against Townsville and Sydney Uni.
Adelaide Lightning 110 def. Brydens Sydney Uni Flames 61
An absolutely dominant display from Adelaide moved them one step closer towards securing a 2018/19 playoff position on Friday night. They set up the victory with a 71-32 first half and shot 54% for the game, drilling 16 three-pointers to out-score the Flames by 36 from beyond the arc. Lauren Nicholson (20 points) set the pace as six players hit double-figures including Steph Blicavs (15 points) and Nicole Seekamp (14 points, nine assists) while Ashley Taia scored a career-high eight points. Tahlia Tupaea’s 21 points was a rare shining light for Sydney Uni.
Chris Lucas, Lightning head coach: “There are no selfish people in our group, they actually don’t care who scores and I think that is pretty special to coach. We should be happy with the result, we shot the ball well in the first half, had a really good training week and I think the girls got the reward of that.”
University of Canberra Capitals 102 def. Bendigo Bank Spirit 62
The Caps won their sixth in a row by an average margin of 33 points and got the job done early again as Kia Nurse opened the floodgates with a bevy of three-pointers. She hit four three-pointers in the first half, going on to finish with 24 points and four steals while Leilani Mitchell was also integral with nine points and seven assists. Kelsey Griffin then finished the Spirit off with 27 points, ten rebounds, three steals and two blocks to officially end Bendigo’s playoff hopes. The Caps were dominant at both ends of the floor, gaining a 28-6 advantage in points off turnovers by forcing 21 errors.
Paul Goriss, Caps head coach: “One of our goals was to make the top four but we have loftier ambitions now. We’re playing great basketball at the right end of the season, everyone is contributing and we’re getting better every week.”
Deakin Melbourne Boomers 64 def. Perth Lynx 59
Playing without captain Jenna O’Hea, the Boomers got off to a 13-3 start as Ezi Magbegor took control inside. Brittany McPhee (15 points) and Kayla Steindl (eight points) quickly took control of the contest though, putting the Lynx in front by the first break and the visitors then extended their lead to six at half-time. That set up an arm-wrestle down the stretch and in the final term, the lead changed hands six times before Lindsay Allen (13 points, seven assists) gained the momentum for Melbourne with five straight points. Asia Taylor (11 points, eight rebounds) replied but Magbegor (17 points, six rebounds) had the answer one last time with the Boomers then clinching the tight victory from the free-throw line.
Guy Molloy, Boomers head coach: “Ezi showed why she is one of the big stars of Australian basketball. The last month has been a grind to get over the strenuous part of the season we had but our defence has held.”
Brittany McPhee, Lynx: “They are a really good team and you have to do every little thing right if you want to come out on top.”
JCU Townsville Fire 72 def. by Jayco Rangers 77
Despite only owning a lead for 18 seconds, Townsville pushed Dandenong all the way before dropping their second home game to the Rangers this season. The visitors started well, leading by eight points at quarter-time on the back of Bec Cole (a game-high 29 points) but it was a 25-17 third term that truly gave them control of the contest. Laurin Mincy fought back, scoring eight of her 18 points in the final quarter and Micaela Cocks then hit a big three in her 200th WNBL game to trim the deficit to three inside the last minute. Unfortunately, she missed a follow-up shot to give Townsville the lead and Kayla Pedersen was able to seal the win for the Rangers from the free-throw line. She finished with 16 points and Betnijah Laney was also integral with ten points, eight rebounds and six assists. Despite the victory, Dandenong’s head-to-head results against Adelaide and Perth and other results on the night meant they were still out of the finals race while for the Fire, 2019 marks the first time in seven seasons they will not feature in the playoffs.
Claudia Brassard, Fire head coach: “It’s disappointing. That last shot looked like it was down – and Mic would have loved for it to go down that’s for sure – but she’s been a remarkable player for this club over an extended period of time.”
Bendigo Bank Spirit 66 def. by Perth Lynx 68
Perth came into this contest having lost their last five on the road and they just escaped Bendigo with their biggest lead of the game only four points. Nadeen Payne had 15 points to pace the home side alongside Abbey Wehrung in her 100th game but the Spirit could not shut down Asia Taylor (20 points, eight rebounds) and Katie Ebzery (14 points). They combined for 13 points in the fourth quarter to out-score Bendigo themselves and move the Lynx back into third place on the ladder.
Simon Pritchard, Spirit head coach: “We’ve competed really well against Perth in all our games but just had small three or four-minute patches where we haven’t been good.”
Andy Stewart, Lynx head coach: “We always know Bendigo seem to be good at home and we have always struggled when we get them second on the weekend.”
Brydens Sydney Uni Flames 60 def. by Jayco Rangers 85
The Rangers spoiled Sydney Uni’s party in Belinda Snell’s final game at Brydens Stadium, sweeping their way through Round 13 in the process. Dandenong jumped out to an 8-0 start with Carley Mijovic (19 points, seven rebounds) and Betnijah Laney (16 points, four assists) lighting up the hosts from distance before Bec Cole (25 points, four steals) continued her career season as the Rangers led wire-to-wire. Snell fought through foul trouble to finish with ten points, ten boards and five assists but injuries keep plaguing the Flames who were already missing Brittany Smart with a hamstring strain before Sarah Graham (16 points) rolled her ankle in the third term.
Cheryl Chambers, Flames head coach: “They’re a team at full strength so we knew we had our work cut out for us. I thought we did well, some of our kids came out and showed they can play in this league.”
Larissa Anderson, Rangers head coach: “We want to congratulate Snelly on an amazing career and it sucks to be the team that has to come and play them on this day.
Liz Walsh of the Adelaide Advertiser reported on the Lightning’s smashing of Sydney Uni on Friday night: https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport/basketball/lightning-strike-and-extinguish-flames-by-49-points-in-a-clinical-team-performance/news-story/bfd03f13a6c7d8451c919d206d72ae2d
Eamonn Tiernan covered the Caps’ clinical win for the Canberra Times: https://www.canberratimes.com.au/sport/basketball/canberra-capitals-charging-towards-finals-with-another-huge-win-20190104-p50pmw.html
Roy Ward of The Age recapped the fortunes of the Boomers and Rangers as they both prevailed on Friday night: https://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/wnbl-wrap-ezi-does-it-for-boomers-rangers-bounce-back-spirit-slide-20190104-p50ppo.html
Ward then followed up on Sunday as the Rangers got the better of Sydney Uni: https://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/cole-fires-as-rangers-dominate-snell-s-home-farewell-for-flames-20190106-p50puy.html
Kieran Iles analysed the Spirit’s heartbreak at home for the Bendigo Advertiser: https://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/5837870/home-heartbreak-for-bendigo-spirit/?cs=81