The Perth Lynx know destiny is in their own hands for where they finish this WNBL season and they responded well to end up overpowering a gritty Townsville Fire on Friday night with the 75-68 win.
The Fire might not be in the playoff mix in this final round of the WNBL season, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t motivated to finish off on a high in front of their fans at Townsville Entertainment Centre.
They led the Lynx for a lot of the game as well but Perth willed themselves to overpower them eventually in the second half by outscoring them 39 points to 31 for the crucial seven-point victory.
The win returns the Lynx to the top of the WNBL table at 11-4 following the loss for the UC Capitals to the Adelaide Lightning. A win on Sunday back in Townsville again against the Fire on Sunday should lock away the regular season championship.
It might not have been the prettiest win of the season for the Lynx, but it was one full of spirit and fighting qualities against a challenging opponent on their home floor. The Lynx willed themselves to the win with seven more rebounds, 11 extra offensive boards and forcing the Fire into 21 turnovers.
Marina Mabrey once again hit a massive three-pointer late that proved a dagger blow. That capped a night where while she did shoot 7/23, she delivered when it mattered the most for 20 points, six steals and three rebounds.
Her backcourt partner-in-crime Jackie Young also had 16 points, six rebounds, six assists and six steals for the Lynx while Sami Whitcomb finished with 12 points and six assists, and captain Darcee Garbin 10 points and five rebounds.
Lauren Scherf added eight points and 15 rebounds for Perth, Alex Sharp four points and six boards, Emma Gandini three points, and Ash Isenbarger two points and four rebounds.
Courtney Woods top-scored for Townsville with 19 points and 11 rebounds with Steph Reid adding 18 points and nine assists, Micaela Cocks 12 points and Zitina Aokuso 11 points and nine rebounds.
Lauren Scherf hit an early three for the Lynx and then Marina Mabrey gave the visitors a 5-2 start, but Townsville then scored the next 11 points to take a 13-5 advantage.
Sami Whitcomb steadied Perth with a couple of jumpers but still by quarter-time it was the Fire leading 19-15.
It was basket for basket virtually through the first part of the second quarter before a Whitcomb three brought the Lynx back within a point.
An Emma Gandini triple also made the margin a point again heading towards half-time but the Lynx still couldn’t find a way to get in front with Townsville leading 37-36 going into half-time.
Finally the Lynx took the lead for the first time in the game four minutes into the second half when captain Darcee Garbin knocked down a three ball. Mabrey then also hit from downtown to stretch the lead to five, and Garbin knocked down another from beyond the arc to stretch it to six.
Perth still led 54-51 by three quarter-time before a Mabrey and-one to start the fourth quarter put the margin back out to four. Not long after and Mabrey connected from downtown again to put the margin out to six and then when Perth needed another big shot, Whitcomb hit from downtown.
Townsville never stopped coming and were able to close the gap to two in the final minute but Mabrey and Young were able to get the job done for the Lynx at the free-throw line.
WNBL ROUND 15
PERTH LYNX 75 (Mabrey 20, Young 16, Whitcomb 12)
TOWNSVILLE FIRE 68 (Woods 19, Reid 18, Cocks 12)