The Perth Lynx took the best shots of the Sydney Flames in the first half and then dominated the second on the way to the 87-68 win to make it five straight victories to remain right in the WNBL playoff hunt.
On the back of four straight wins to stay in the WNBL finals race with the last three of them at home at Bendat Basketball Centre, the Lynx withstood 20 points and 10 rebounds from the Flames in the first half to come away with the 19-point win on Saturday.
Lynx proved too strong again
The Lynx had already defeated the Flames twice at home this season by a combined 19 points, but Saturday’s game at Quay Centre in Sydney was always going to be different with Sydney missing coach Shane Heal and star point guard Shyla Heal.
Even though the Lynx did threaten to pull away multiple times throughout the first half, the Flames stuck with them and by half-time it was a narrow two-point lead for Perth.
However, the Lynx dominated the second half beginning with 23 points to six in the third quarter before ending up securing the 19-point victory after leading by as much as 24.
It’s a fifth straight win this WNBL season for the Lynx to improve them to a 7-5 record to remain right in the playoff hunt with nine games remaining, including the next four all against teams above them on the table – Bendigo, Melbourne and Townsville.
The Lynx finished the game shooting 47 per cent from the field and went 13/17 at the foul line to make up for taking 15 fewer shots than the Flames, who went at just 30 per cent with 8/9 at the free-throw line unable to capitalise on a 13 offensive rebound to six advantage.
Perth did still win the rebound count 51-46 on the back of cleaning up 45 of the 58 missed shots from Sydney.
The standout performers
Lynx captain Sami Whitcomb top-scored once again for her team with 19 points to go with seven assists on the back of shooting 8/13 from the field and 3/5 from beyond the arc.
Alex Sharp continued her standout form with 17 points and eight rebounds on 7/10 shooting with Lauren Scherf delivering another 14 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Chloe Bibby also put up 14 points with 7/8 at the free-throw line with Robbi Ryan contributing 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists, Amy Atwell nine points and seven boards, and Tayah Burrows four points.
Keely Froling had 20 points and 10 rebounds to half-time for the Flames, but finished with just 22 and 13. Import forward Jocelyn Willoughby added 18 points.
How the game panned out
The Lynx had already beaten the Flames twice at home this season and started well on Saturday on the road with the game’s first bucket to Robbi Ryan and then a three ball to Lauren Scherf.
Sydney worked back into the contest from there and nine points from Keely Froling helped, but the Lynx did enough to lead 20-18 by quarter-time on the back of closing out the period on a 7-3 run. The Flames’ only points in that stretch were a triple from former Perth player Emma Clarke.
Perth maintained its advantage through the early stages of the second quarter including a three-pointer from Chloe Bibby before captain Sami Whitcomb took over.
She hit a couple of threes and made another couple of baskets in the space of a couple of minutes for the Lynx, the only problem the Flames were keeping in touch largely thanks to the 20 points and 10 rebounds to half-time from Froling.
However, a late three ball from Amy Atwell and then bucket from Alex Sharp ensured the Lynx led 46-44 at the half with 12 points from Whitcomb, 10 from Sharp and shooting 50 per cent as a team from the floor.
The game might have been up for grabs at half-time, but it didn’t stay that way for long. Atwell hit the first two scores of the second half before Ryan scored and Whitcomb hit a three to give the Lynx a 9-2 run to start the third quarter.
Then after four points to the Flames, the Lynx blew the game wide open with the last 14 consecutive points of the third quarter. It started with buckets to Bibby, Whitcomb and Sharp before Burrows and Scherf got involved.
When Ryan connected on a three ball, the Lynx were in control 69-50 at three quarter-time on the back 23 points to six in the third quarter.
The Lynx remained in control right throughout the fourth quarter leading by as much as 23 points at one stage before ending up winning by 19 to make it five wins in succession.
What’s next for the Lynx
The Lynx remain on the road for two more road clashes to the Bendigo Spirit on Wednesday and Melbourne Boomers next Sunday.
There’s then back-to-back home games against the Townsville Fire on Wednesday February 1 and Saturday February 4.
CYGNETT WNBL ROUND 11
PERTH LYNX 87 (Whitcomb 19, Sharp 17, Bibby 14, Scherf 14)
SYDNEY FLAMES 68 (Froling 22, Willoughby 18, Sjerven 7)