The Perth Lynx are one win away from reaching the WNBL Grand Final after producing a commanding performance in Game 1 of the semi-final series to beat the University of Canberra Capitals 91-77 on Thursday night.
The Lynx had earned the right to host Game 1 of the semi finals against the Capitals at Bendat Basketball Centre having finished the WNBL regular season in second position, and they gave their home fans plenty to cheer about.
Perth was able to lead pretty much the entire way and go out to open up an advantage of as much as 20 points at one stage before winning by 14 to be one win from the Grand Final which will be against either the Melbourne Boomers or Adelaide Lightning.
The Boomers beat the Lightning in Game 1 of their semi-final series earlier on Thursday 95-64 in Melbourne.
The Lynx rode their starters most of the evening and why not when they are WNBA or Australian Opals superstars with each of the big five playing just about 25 minutes or more.
They would end up combining for 86 of the Lynx’s 91 points in the game as well as 37 of the 43 rebounds and 11 of the 12 assists.
Sami Whitcomb ended up top-scoring with 20 points to go with 11 rebounds and two assists while knocking down 4/5 from three-point territory.
Marina Mabrey caught fire just before half-time to blow the Lynx back out to a double-figure lead and she finished with 19 points, three rebounds and two assists while backcourt partner-in-crime Jackie Young had 16 points, six boards and five assists.
Captain Darcee Garbin added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Lynx and fellow big Lauren Scherf 15 points and eight boards with Asi Isenbarger adding three points, and Alex Sharp two to go with two rebounds.
Brittany Smart top-scored for Canberra with 18 points while Kelsey Griffin and Tahlia Tupaea scored 15 apiece.
The Lynx got the ball inside to start the game and Lauren Scherf and Darcee Garbin scored the first two baskets as a result. Perth was then able to go on a 7-0 run starting with a three ball from Sami Whitcomb to see them lead 15-7.
Canberra finished the opening quarter strongly, though, scoring 14 of the last 22 points and as a result scores were all locked away at 23-23 by the end of one.
Perth came out firing to start the second period with three-pointers to Whitcomb and Garbin to lead by those six points. However, the Caps fired back and a couple of minutes later held their one-point lead before the Lynx turned the tide once more.
Scherf and Whitcomb scored to put Perth back on top and then the home team went on a run of 12 straight points with Mabrey catching fire like only she can. She scored the last eight of those points herself including two from downtown and the Lynx went into half-time leading 52-41.
The Lynx quickly turned that 11-point lead at the half from 11 to 14 thanks to a Whitcomb three ball to open the second half, it was basket for basket most of the rest of the way up until three quarter-time with Scherf converting a three-point play just before the buzzer for the 13-point Lynx edge.
A three to Ash Isenbarger and bucket to Young saw Perth stretch the lead out to 18 to start the fourth quarter. Even though the Capitals hit back with the next six points, the Lynx responded to that with the next eight including three balls to Scherf and Garbin.
When Garbin’s triple dropped the margin was out to 20 with 4:40 remaining. Whitcomb then drained another triple and Scherf capped off the win with and-one with the home team going on to take the Game 1 win by 14 points.
Game 2 will be in in the Canberra suburb of Tuggeranong on Sunday and if required, Game 3 back at the Bendat Basketball Centre on Wednesday night.
WNBL FINALS 2022 – SEMI-FINAL GAME 1
PERTH LYNX 91 (Whitcomb 20, Mabrey 19, Young 16, Garbin 16)
UC CAPITALS 77 (Smart 18, Tupaea 15, Griffin 15)