February 24, 2024 | Perth Lynx news

Perth Lynx put together a team this WNBL season to shoot three-pointers and it was a stunning onslaught to start the second half from beyond the arc that set up Saturday’s crucial 93-74 road win over the Bendigo Spirit.

The Lynx need two things to happen in the WNBL’s last round this weekend if they want to play finals this season and the first was to beat the Spirit at Red Energy Arena on Saturday night.

Bendigo also needed to win and if they did they would play finals having won its past five matches, but it was five three-pointers in the opening six minutes of the second half that set the Lynx up for the victory after trailing the entire first half.

Perth ended up outscoring Bendigo 49 points to 25 in the second half to mean they finish the regular season with an 11-10 record and now wait for Sunday’s result between Townsville and Sydney to learn their fate.

Where the game was won

The Spirit had the better of the first half racing to an 18-2 lead and remaining in the lead the entire time.

They ended up going into the main break leading 49-44 on the back of eight offensive rebounds to three, and shooting 47 per cent from the field to 40 from the Lynx and taking 16 free-throws to nine.

However, what the Lynx did to open the second half was remarkable but certainly not surprising given this team was built around being a three-point shooting outfit.

That paid off in remarkable fashion to start the third quarter with Aari McDonald and Amy Atwell hitting two triples apiece as part of a game turning 14-0 run.

That scoring streak turned a four-point deficit for the Lynx into a 10-point lead and they never looked back from there including scoring another 14 consecutive points late in the piece to blow it out to the eventual 19-point victory.

Who the standout performers were

Aari McDonald showed her quality and ability to step up in the biggest of moments again for the Lynx finishing with 26 points, four rebounds and four assists including shooting 5/13 from behind the three-point line.

Amy Atwell was superb as well on the court she plays on during the NBL1 South season at the Bendigo Braves, producing 23 points and six rebounds on hitting 4/8 from downtown.

Miela Goodchild stepped up impressively too with 14 points and two steals while Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard contributed eight points, eight rebounds and three assists, and captain Anneli Maley seven points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

Alex Ciabattoni also had six points and three rebounds, Steph Gorman five points and three boards, and Emily Potter was limited to just 12 and-a-half minutes because of foul trouble and had four points and seven rebounds.

Kelsey Griffin did all she could to lift Bendigo with 24 points and 12 rebounds while Alicia Froling ended up with 17 points, four boards, three assists and two blocks, and Ally Wilson 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

How the game panned out

The game couldn’t have possibly started worse for the Lynx with the Spirit racing to an 18-2 lead on the back of scoring 16 consecutive points much to the delight of their raucous home fans.

The Lynx had to dig deep and the introduction of Aari McDonald into the game helped steady things and the superstar point guard scored seven quick points, but still by quarter-time it was Bendigo leading 27-16.

Miela Goodchild and Alex Ciabattoni combined for the first nine points for Perth in the second quarter before Anneli Maley hit a three-pointer. Goodchild knocked one down from deep too and it was a three-point ball game.

Amy Atwell, Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard and McDonald then all closed the half with three-pointers for the Lynx but it was the Spirit clinging to a 49-44 advantage largely thanks to their extra possessions created by eight offensive rebounds.

With their season on the line, the Lynx produced some scintillating basketball to start the second half on the back of getting hot from beyond the three-point arc which is what this team was built to do.

When trailing by four, the Lynx were insatiable to score the game’s next 14 points which started with a pair of three balls to McDonald. Atwell then closed it with two more bombs of her own as Perth turned that four-point deficit into a 10-point lead.

Clinch Hoycard joined the three-point party as well with the Lynx’s lead out to 11 and it was still six by three quarter-time.

However, Bendigo’s season was also on the line so they weren’t going to go down lightly but Perth were feeling good and it was Goodchild who hit six quick points to open the final period to push the lead back out to double-digits.

McDonald drained yet another three-pointer to make the margin 11 but Bendigo stayed in touch thanks to Kelsey Griffin to be back within seven with the season of both teams on the line.

The Lynx then hammered home their advantage in an emphatic finish to the contest to score the game’s next 14 consecutive points.

It including triples from Steph Gorman and Atwell, but the play that could well have broken the Spirit’s back was the offensive rebound and put back after a missed three from McDonald by Maley against the team she was league MVP with.

From there the Lynx confirmed the 19-point victory thanks to the dominant second half to keep their season alive.

What’s next for the Lynx

The Lynx have taken care of what they could control now this round by getting the win. Their fate is now, remarkably, in the hands of former captain Sami Whitcomb and her Townsville Fire team on Sunday.

Should Townsville beat the Sydney Flames in Far North Queensland, then it’s good news for the Lynx and they will finish in fourth position. However, a win on the road for Sydney and it’s the Flames who make it and the Lynx miss out.

The good news for the Lynx is that Townsville has plenty of motivation to win too needing to defeat Sydney to secure top position. A loss for the Fire and the defending champs will finish second and it will be the Southside Flyers claiming the regular season championship.


PERTH LYNX 93 (McDonald 26, Atwell 23, Goodchild 14)

BENDIGO SPIRIT 74 (Griffin 24, Froling 17, A Wilson 16)