March 14, 2024 | Perth Lynx news

Losing a game on the buzzer which denied you a championship is naturally going to be emotionally jarring, but the Perth Lynx have another chance at a first title in 32 years after the Southside Flyers prevailed 97-95 on Thursday night.

The Lynx produced a stunning performance with 22 three-pointers to win Game 1 of the Grand Final Series 101-79 on Sunday in Melbourne, but closing the deal even in front of a sold out Bendat Basketball Centre crowd was never going to be easy.

That proved the case and while the Lynx never led the whole game, it was still the most dramatic of finishes with Perth having a couple of chances to grab that first lead.

In the end, the Flyers prevailed with a Mercedes Russell shot on the buzzer and the deciding Game 3 will now be back in Melbourne on Sunday.

Where the game was won

Ultimately the game was decided in the last second with the turnaround shot from Mercedes Russell, but playing catch up all evening was always going to make life difficult for the Lynx.

After the way Perth blew the game open with their fast pace and hot shooting on Sunday, Southside were never going to let that happen again and the game was on the terms of the Flyers for a lot of the evening.

The Flyers shot the ball well to open up their lead too and by half-time on the back of 27 points to 18 in the second quarter with 11 of those to Bec Cole in a couple of minutes, they led 55-43 having shot 54 per cent.

The Lynx kept on coming and ended up tying scores with a minute to go, but they were never quite able to assume the lead.

And it came down to that last Flyers possession where Leilani Mitchell fumbled it, tapped it towards Russell who showed her class and experience to hit the game winner.

Who the standout performers were

Aari McDonald faced a physical barrage all evening but was never deterred and still ended up delivering 26 points and eight assists in over 34 minutes for the Lynx.

Alex Ciabattoni came up huge in the back court as well with 16 points, three steals, two blocks and two assists with Emily Potter battling the three bigs of the Flyers strongly for 16 points and six rebounds.

Miela Goodchild added 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks, Amy Atwell nine points and four boards, Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard seven points and six rebounds, Anneli Maley five points and 17 boards, and Steph Gorman two points.

The Flyers had plenty of big contributors with import Jaz Dickey top-scoring with 19 points.

Bec Cole added 18 points three rebounds and three assists, Mercedes Russell 18 points and 17 boards, Maddy Rocci 14 points and six assists, and Carley Ernst 14 points.

How the game panned out

The Flyers were always going to come out strong in a must-win situation and they scored the opening five points, but the Lynx steadied thanks to Emily Potter and Amy Atwell.

Aari McDonald then scored a couple of buckets but Southside scored the next 10 points starting with three balls from Lauren Jackson and Maddy Rocci to take a 10-point edge.

Perth responded and it started to turn in their favour with the introduction of Alex Ciabattoni to add that extra ball handler and playmaker. She also scored a couple of times herself and the Lynx went on a 13-6 run, and by quarter-time had cut the Flyers’ lead to 28-25.

Miela Goodchild sparked the Lynx with five quick points to start the second frame and then captain Anneli Maley knocked down a three ball to tie scores up, but then Bec Cole got rolling for the Flyers.

She scored 11 points in no time and helped push Southside out to a 12-point lead, and that was still the advantage at the main break. The Flyers were shooting 54 per cent from the field with 6/14 from deep opposed to the 43 per cent and 3/15 for the Lynx.

Every time the Lynx were threatening closing the gap the Flyers had the answers for a lot of the third quarter, but again it was Ciabattoni crucial in her scoring and defensive pressure to keep Perth in touch.

Then the Lynx were able to gain some momentum heading into three quarter-time and a tough driving layup on the buzzer from McDonald cut the Southside lead to 78-71.

Perth kept that momentum going to start the fourth quarter with McDonald and Potter scoring to cut the deficit to three before Southside did respond with the next six points.

The Lynx were feeling the best they had all game, though, and a triple to Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard and bucket to Atwell kept things close.

With just over three minutes to play and the Lynx were back within a point thanks to a Potter tough make. Russell answered with a three-point play for Southside and the visitors were still up four with two minutes on the clock.

The Lynx kept on coming with the home crowd behind them and forced some crucial stops with Ciabattoni closing the gap to two and then two free-throws from McDonald tied scores up with a minute to play.

Maley had a chance at the foul line to give Perth the first lead but couldn’t quite knock one down, but up the other end the Lynx did well to force a stop and turnover with Maley finding herself attacking the basket in transition.

That didn’t quite fall either and then the Flyers had a disjointed offensive possession, but Leilani Mitchell was able to tap her fumble into the path of Russell, who gathered and turned it around, knocked it down as time expired and the Game 3 was locked in.

What comes next

The championship deciding Game 3 will now be in Melbourne on Sunday with the Lynx attempting to get the job done and win that elusive first championship since 1992.


PERTH LYNX 95 (McDonald 26, Ciabattoni 16, Potter 16)

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS 97 (Dickey 19, Cole 18, Russell 18)