Three teams have now secured finals spots including the Brydens Sydney University Flames who cannot be knocked off top spot while JCU Townsville Fire and the University of Canberra Capitals are set up for a potential all or nothing clash this Saturday night.
JCU Townsville Fire 83 defeated Jayco Dandenong Rangers 66
Townsville have solidified their championship credentials with a crushing victory over the Rangers. Leading by as many as 31 points at one stage, the Fire withstood a late scare from the visitors to eventually run away comfortable victors. Kayla Standish stood out for Townsville with 22 points, while the ageless Suzy Batkovic continued her incredible form with 15 points and 12 rebounds and Kelly Wilson also stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. For the stumbling Rangers who have now lost three straight games, Sara Blicavs collected 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Claudia Brassard, Fire coach:ÊÒI was really happy with the adjustments that we made from last week. We looked after the ball a lot betterÐ Kelly played a huge role in that, I thought she was terrific tonight- but we were aggressive from the outset.Ó
Larissa Anderson, Rangers coach:ÊÒWe fought back from 30 points down and got it back to 10 with four minutes to go. Suzy Batkovic had fouled out for them and we couldÕve won it but we made silly errors and didnÕt execute.Ó
MAC Adelaide Lightning 72 defeated by Deakin Melbourne Boomers 85
Basketball is a 40-minute game, but sometimes, one good quarter is all you need. This was the case for the Boomers on Friday night as a 33-19 final period eventuated into a 13-point victory over the Lightning. Maddie Garrick, who finished with 22 points on the night, fueled the big fourth quarter while Alice Kunek and Bec Cole contributed 15 points to answer Colleen PlanetaÕs big night of 25 points and nine rebounds. Adelaide will be kicking themselves, letting a golden opportunity to secure their first home victory of the season slip while the loss also assured they will finish on the bottom of the ladder for 2016/17.
Brydens Sydney University Flames 81 defeated Jayco Dandenong Rangers 77
The Rangers suffered more pain on the second night of a back-to-back as the Flames roared back from a six-point deficit at three-quarter time to sew up top spot and secure home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Dandenong missed an opportunity to grab their own place in the finals for the third straight game, losing the final term 11-21 as Leilani Mitchell (19 points, four rebounds, six assists in 40 minutes) and Belinda Snell (17 points, six boards, seven assists) starred. Jennifer Hamson (16 points, 14 rebounds) added a double-double in a great front-court battle with the RangersÕ Ally Malott (20 points) while Steph Cumming also impressed, matching MitchellÕs 40 minutes of game-time with 25 points and five dimes.
Cheryl Chambers, Flames coach:ÊÒIt feels fantastic to win that, itÕs what you play basketball for. TheyÕre a quality team and had some people who stood up for them but to get over them in the end was a great thing.Ó
Larissa Anderson, Rangers coach:ÊÒWe were up for 32 minutes of the game and once again itÕs a game we probably shouldÕve won, but we didnÕt close it out. We can blame fatigue but it was turnovers and lack of execution down the stretch which cost us against a fresher team.Ó
University of Canberra Capitals 77 defeated Bendigo Bank Spirit 52
TheÊCaps used a 24-4 third term to keep themselves in the finals race while officially ending any hope the Spirit had of returning to the post-season. They held Bendigo to 32% shooting overall while out-scoring them by 24 from beyond the arc with Abbey Wehrung (18 points including 5-6 from long range) shining before going down with what is hopefully not a serious knee injury. Kate Gaze added 13 points off the bench and Marianna Tolo recorded 14 points, ten rebounds, two steals and two blocks while for Bendigo, Heather Oliver tallied 13 points off the bench and Nayo Raincock-Ekunwe had eight points and 14 rebounds.
Paul Goriss, Capitals coach:ÊÒThis group deals with adversity really well and I think the energy they brought after Abbey went down was tremendous. The girls did us all proud by carrying on with the job.Ó
Simon Pritchard, Spirit coach:ÊÒA really tough game. After half-time, we just came out and allowed them to dictate terms. To CanberraÕs credit, they attacked us and got to the rim and that was the end of the story.Ó
Perth Lynx 87 defeated Deakin Melbourne Boomers 81
TheÊLynxÊprevailed in overtime as Sami Whitcomb (22 points, six rebounds, four assists) hit a big three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining to clinch the victory and hand the Boomers their sixth loss for the season by six points or less. Carley Mijovic (17 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks) and Brianna Butler (a career-high 19 points) shone for the Lynx while Ruth Hamblin also added a double-double of 12 points and 11 boards. For Melbourne, Bec Cole and Tegan Cunningham fought valiantly, combining for 27 points and Kalisha Keane (16 points, nine rebounds, nine assists) almost recorded a triple-double.
Sami Whitcomb, Lynx:ÊÒI think this was the perfect game to have at this stage of the season leading into finals It obviously wasnÕt pretty, it wasnÕt as free flowing as we wanted it to be offensively, but thatÕs finals basketball. ItÕs not always pretty, but you hang tough and you fight.Ó
Guy Molloy, Boomers coach:ÊÒAbout a month back, we had an overtime game in Bendigo. We play a great team in Perth on the road, we had a shot to win it and the game goes to overtime, you get worn down in those situations. We donÕt have the depth, that additional five minutes is hard. IÕm still very proud of my team.Ó
Jon Tuxworth of the Townsville Bulletin caught up with Kelly Wilson to discuss her first season with the Fire: http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/sport/wilson-the-joker-in-fires-pack/news-story/6de8a5024dbcf830436d7273df012c92
Tuxworth also reported on the finals equation for Townsville after their Friday night win over Dandenong: http://www.townsvillebulletin.com.au/sport/fire-on-brink-of-finals-after-rangers-win/news-story/aee04d1be19fb40ff7492a2599035b6e
The Saturday Paper catches up with FlamesÕ veteran Belinda Snell: https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/sport/basketball/2017/02/11/shooting-star-belinda-snell-36-basketballer/14867316004202
Abbey Wehrung opens up to Chris Dutton of the Canberra Times about her fatherÕs passing when she was just nine years old: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/sport/basketball/canberra-capitals-guard-abigail-wehrung-uses-lucky-no13-to-honour-her-dad-20170209-gu9loe.html
Megan Hustwaite caught up with Larissa Anderson following DandenongÕs road losses for Leader Newspapers: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/south-east/sport/dandenong-lose-wnbl-road-trip-but-coach-larissa-anderson-proud-of-rangers-effort/news-story/cff30d47d1aaf3ef87fc4e129f028aab
Hustwaite also reported on the Boomers’ proud effort over Round 18:Êhttp://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/outer-east/sport/melbourne-boomers-beat-adelaide-lightning-take-it-up-to-perth-lynx-in-overtime-on-wnbl-road-trip/news-story/600ebdc72c426c3473ee59e8649f879d
Roy Ward of The Age also caught up with Anderson to discuss DandenongÕs recent form: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/wnbl-dandenong-rangers-see-good-signs-for-finals-despite-tough-losses-20170212-gub5sh.html
Kieran Iles of the Bendigo Advertiser covered the SpiritÕs loss on Sunday to the Caps: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/4462109/capitals-douse-spirits-wnbl-finals-hopes/