ROUND 13 REVIEW
At the culmination of the regular season, Sydney Uni have moved into second place on the ladder with a sweep of Round 13 and will have home court advantage in their Semi-Final series against the Fire while first-placed Perth will meet fourth-placed Melbourne in the other Semi-Final series.
MAC Adelaide Lightning 87 def. Bendigo Bank Spirit 74
Despite missing out on the playoffs, Adelaide ended their 2017/18 campaign in style as their starters dominated Bendigo to finish the season with a victory. Ruth Hamblin (23 points, seven rebounds), Nicole Seekamp (22 points, six assists, five steals) and Abby Bishop (15 points, nine boards, five assists) held off several runs from the Spirit who were paced by Betnijah Laney’s 20 points before the visitors were eventually overrun with a 16-24 final term.
Brydens Sydney Uni Flames 107 def. JCU Townsville Fire 81
Sydney Uni kept their hopes of second place alive with a comprehensive performance to own the season series against Townsville. Jennifer Hamson (24 points, ten rebounds) led all five starters in double-figures with Belinda Snell (19 points, nine assists) and Asia Taylor (18 points, nine boards) also doing damage. As expected, the Fire’s bench went to work, paced by Darcee Garbin’s 20 points and 11 rebounds but they were never truly in the contest after falling behind by eight points at quarter-time.
Claudia Brassard, Fire coach: “No one wearing the uniform tonight would be happy with that. They out-rebounded us, they got more assists and they had a good game offensively.”
University of Canberra Capitals 74 def. Perth Lynx 69
In their final game of the season, the Caps snapped Perth’s 14-game winning streak while succeeding in five of their last six behind 24 points from Jordan Hooper, 13 points from Ezi Magbegor and Nat Hurst’s eight assists. The visitors, potentially distracted by the prospect of next week’s Semi-Final series as they scored their lowest total of 2017/18, were led by 20 points from Sami Whitcomb and Courtney Williams’ 19 points, ten rebounds, five steals and two blocks.
Paul Goriss, Caps coach: “Finishing the season winning five out of six, it’s a great way to finish. It’s also disappointing that it had to end so early for us because I still believe we had the group and we had the team to be a top four team. It’s disappointing in a way that we’re not in finals and we can beat a team like Perth… we’re up there and we’re heading in the right direction.”
Deakin Melbourne Boomers def. Jayco Dandenong Rangers
The Boomers headed into the 2017/18 playoffs with a big victory, out-scoring Dandenong with a 21-0 final term. Liz Cambage returned from injury with 20 points while Brittany Smart (18 points) and Kalani Purcell (five points, ten rebounds, three assists, four steals) starred. Carley Mijovic recorded 18 points and ten boards for the visitors who ran out of steam down the stretch of this season.
Guy Molloy, Boomers coach: “I was pleased with how we knuckled down defensively in the second half. Importantly, we got some match minutes under Liz’s belt before we play finals on Wednesday night.”
Larissa Anderson, Rangers coach: “It was a great effort from our girls in the first half, we just didn’t reward ourselves. For the most part, we hung tough but it’s been a really tough season.”
JCU Townsville Fire 83 def. Perth Lynx 51
Needing a win to have any hope of finishing second on the ladder, Townsville ensured the contest was never in doubt as they led wire-to-wire. Suzy Batkovic was dominant with 31 points and 13 rebounds while Cayla George and Micaela Cocks joined her in double-figures with 13 and ten points respectively. Courtney Williams’ 11 points was the high-mark for the Lynx who have stumbled in their preparation for the finals, dropping two games in a row over Round 13. Injuries to Amanda Dowe and Sami Whitcomb have also hampered Perth’s run.
Claudia Brassard, Fire coach: “We haven’t been happy with our starts, but I’m really happy with the way we started today. I think everyone was on the same page and we weren’t reactive defensively. We were probably on the front foot and dictating a little bit more with our defence which is important for us.”
Andy Stewart, Lynx coach: “There are still more positives than negatives. We’ve got home court advantage, our game style works, we believe we can recover in time and we know we can still put a lot of points on the board. There is a lot of stuff we can control.”
Bendigo Bank Spirit 63 def. by Brydens Sydney Uni Flames 75
Following their win over Townsville on Friday night, Sydney Uni still needed to succeed against Bendigo to secure second place and they set up an important victory with a 42-23 opening half. Asia Taylor (16 points) and Katie Ebzery (13 points, six assists) controlled the tempo in the open floor, helping the Flames to a 15-2 edge in fast break points while Alex Wilson (14 points) and Jennifer Hamson (ten points, ten boards) also hit double-figures. The Spirit repaid the faith of a big crowd that turned out for their final clash of the season by winning the second half courtesy of 33 combined points from Rachel Banham and Betnijah Laney but they still finished on the bottom of the ladder for the first time in club history.
Prior to Round 13, Roy Ward penned a feature for The Age on rising star for the Rangers, Kiera Rowe: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/dandenong-rangers-rookie-kiera-rowe-takes-opportunities-chases-final-round-win-over-melbourne-boomers-20171229-h0bbbn.html
Michael Thompson delivered a piece on Claudia Brassard’s 50th game as coach for the Townsville Bulletin: http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/sport/claudias-sweet-50-at-fire-coach/news-story/77e0d3fcbd2e92f8728dc0d870bfb63f
Thompson also wrote about Townsville’s loss to the Flames on Friday night: http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/sport/fires-top-two-hopes-go-down-in-flames/news-story/46892cdf594579c20aa27521e4f17d22
Caden Helmers reported on the Caps’ strong finish to the season with a surprise win over the Lynx for The Canberra Times: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/sport/act-sport/wnbl-canberra-capitals-stun-perth-lynx-for-a-fairytale-finish-20171228-h0b2ig.html
Rob Greenwood covered the Lightning’s Friday night victory for the Adelaide Advertiser: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport/basketball/adelaide-lightning-downs-bendigo-spirit-by-13-points-in-wnbl-clash/news-story/0a98fa3b04a0be7abc14fdc6991209cc
Ward also wrote about the Boomers’ preparation for the finals after thrashing Dandenong on Saturday night: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/melbourne-boomers-run-confidently-into-wnbl-semi-finals-with-win-over-dandenong-rangers-20171230-h0bnjo.html
Trent Slatter covered the Fire’s victory over the Lynx for the Townsville Bulletin: http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/sport/townsville-fire-blitz-perth-lynx-8351-in-wnbl-finals-warmup/news-story/f656a8f4b9c187723b36e06da59eef04
Sami Whitcomb and Amanda Dowe are under injury clouds for the Lynx on the eve of the playoffs reports Craig O’Donoghue for The West Australian: https://thewest.com.au/sport/basketball/perth-lynx-co-captain-sami-whitcomb-injures-wrist-in-loss-to-townsville-on-eve-of-the-wnbl-finals-ng-b88702851z
Find the full fixture for the Semi-Finals beginning on January 3 here: http://wnbl.basketball/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/WNBL_2017_Finals_SeriesFixture.pdf
Catch up on all the news around the league via the Basket Case podcast here: https://www.spreaker.com/show/basket-case
You can also listen to Megan Hustwaite’s WNBL podcast here: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/the-wnbl-show/id1292447514?mt=2#episodeGuid=85fa7997-cdbf-463a-ba63-6880c78e48f9