LYNX CLOSE REGULAR SEASON WITH STRONG WIN IN CANBERRA
The Perth Lynx have geared up for their WNBL semi-final match up with regular season champion Townsville Fire with another strong performance to beat the UC Capitals 107-94 on the road on Saturday.
How Lynx closed the regular season with a win
With fourth position already secured and their playoff future decided, the Lynx did come into the game with regular starters Lauren Scherf and Robbi Ryan not suiting up.
Ultimately captain Sami Whitcomb would only play the first half too, but she was brilliant in her 18 minutes to set up the eventual win before Chloe Forster, Desiree Kelley, Tayah Burrows and Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard all stepped up to play crucial roles.
The Lynx ended the game shooting 49 per cent from the field including 8/31 from three-point range and 17/20 from the foul line. In comparison, Canberra went at 44 per cent overall with 12/34 from beyond the arc and 14/17 at the charity stripe.
The Lynx also collected 51 rebounds to 36 for the game including 12 to four at the offensive end for 14 second chance points to two.
The result means the Lynx finish the WNBL regular season with a 13-8 record to end up in fourth position to take on the Townsville Fire in the semi finals starting Thursday in Far North Queensland.
Who the starring performers were
Lynx captain Sami Whitcomb might not have played the second half, but she still finished with numbers to suggest she did. In the 18 minutes she did play in the first half, she amassed 22 points, six rebounds and six assists on 8/15 shooting.
Chloe Bibby closed out her standout first regular season with the Lynx with another 19 points and nine rebounds while shooting 8/14 from the floor with Amy Atwell putting up another 18 points, eight rebounds and two steals on 4/13 shooting from three-point land.
Chloe Forster played her most significant role in a game and the emerging guard from the Warwick Senators who starred in the NBL1 West and National Championship win last year put up a career-best 12 points, three rebounds and three assists.
Another NBL1 West championship winner and 202-game veteran Desiree Kelley scored her first points in the WNBL too and had five points, seven rebounds and two assists.
Alex Sharp finished the game with 10 points and nine rebounds, Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard eight points, four assists, three boards and two steals, Tayah Burrows seven points, Jessie Edwards three points and four rebounds, and Emma Gandini three points and three steals.
The Capitals only had seven fit players to suit up for the game with Shanice Swain landing 8/15 from three-point territory for 33 points. Brittany Smart also had 16 points and three assists, and Jade Melbourne 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals.
How the game unfolded
The Lynx might have been without starters Lauren Scherf and Robbi Ryan, but that didn’t stop a hot start courtesy of captain Sami Whitcomb. She started the game on fire with the opening eight points including a couple of three-pointers.
Amy Atwell joined in the fun to give Perth the 11-3 start and then Whitcomb scored again to make it 13-6 with the captain scoring 10 of those points for the Lynx.
Chloe Bibby scored her first two buckets of the game and Tayah Burrows and Jessie Edwards gave the Lynx a boost heading into quarter-time as well. That saw Perth head into the first break leading 30-21 thanks to an impressive offensive display with Whitcomb putting up 16 of those points.
While Shanice Swain knocked down three three-pointers for the Capitals in the early part of the second quarter, the Lynx continued to have all the answers with Atwell matching that performance with three makes from beyond the arc of her own.
When Chloe Forster converted a three-point play to top off a 7-0 run for the Lynx, the lead was out to 16 points. It was still a 56-44 advantage by half-time Whitcomb already had 22 points, six rebounds and six assists to her name.
The Lynx were shooting 22/42 from the field for the half while hitting 7/20 from three-point range and it was only 16 points with five triples from Swain keeping the Capitals in any sort of touch.
After Bibby pushed Perth’s lead out to 14 again to start the second half, Canberra did go on an 8-2 run and the home team was able to make a real contest out of it the rest of the way.
With Whitcomb not playing the second half and then with Scherf and Ryan not playing in the game at all, it did somewhat leave the opening there for the Caps to end their season on a winning note, but the Lynx were still able to answer every challenge.
Just when the Caps brought the home fans to their feet late in the third quarter with another 12-3 run which included three-pointers to Swain and Sherrie Calleia, the Lynx answered again and Forster and Bibby both scored just before three quarter-time to keep Perth on top 79-73.
Suddenly it became just a one-point ball game early in the fourth quarter when Swain was able to knock down her eighth three-pointer of the game for the Caps.
Ultimately it was Desiree Kelley’s first points in the WNBL after scoring 1895 of them in the SBL/NBL1 West for the Willetton Tigers where she’s a championship captain that steadied the ship for the Lynx.
She made a three-pointer before both Bibby and Atwell completed three-point plays. When Alex Sharp also scored, Perth was back up 10 and the resistance from the Capitals had been broken.
Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard closed out the game strongly with seven of the Lynx’s last 13 points on the way to the eventual 107-94 victory.
What’s next for the Lynx
Next up on the calendar is the WNBL Awards night on Sunday and then it’s time for the WNBL playoffs to get underway with the Lynx taking on the Townsville Fire in the semi finals.
Game 1 will be at the Townsville Entertainment Centre on Thursday before Game 2 will be at the Bendat Basketball Centre next Sundy afternoon. If required, Game 3 will be back in Townsville the following Thursday.
The other WNBL semi-final series features the Southside Flyers against the Melbourne Boomers.
CYGNETT WNBL ROUND 16
PERTH LYNX 107 (Whitcomb 22, Bibby 19, Atwell 18)
UC CAPITALS 94 (Swain 33, Smart 16, Melbourne 15)