January 31, 2024 | Perth Lynx news

Not only were Perth Lynx without star point guard Aari McDonald, but also captain Anneli Maley and couldn’t quite maintain a strong first quarter with the Southside Flyers ending up winning 91-70 in Melbourne on Wednesday.

The Lynx were playing their last game of the WNBL season prior to the FIBA break and needed a win to try and break back into the top four, but being without McDonald for an eighth straight game along with the absence of Maley made it quite the challenge.

When you’re coming up against a team with the calibre of players of Lauren Jackson, Bec Cole, Leilani Mitchell, Maddi Rocci and Mercedes Russell, and the Lynx were up against it and that’s how it panned out, but not without the players throwing everything into a competitive effort.

In the end Southside kept pulling away to win by 21 points to leave the Lynx at 9-10 having lost five straight matches with just two games to go after the FIBA break.

Where the game was won

The Lynx did well to overcome conceding the game’s first eight points to end up leading 25-19 by quarter-time thanks to shooting 53 per cent from the field to just 30 from the Flyers, but it was tough to keep it going in the absence of Aari McDonald and Anneli Maley.

Perth did well to hang in there to be only down 11 at half-time especially considering the outburst of four three-point bombs from Leilani Mitchell for the Flyers.

The Lynx were still hanging in there down 14 at three quarter-time and got within 13 several times in the fourth period, but in the end the Flyers pulled away to win by 21.

It was a tough shooting night for the Lynx who went 37 per cent from the field while making 4/25 from three despite 18/22 at the foul line. The 18 turnovers from which Southside scored 20 points from didn’t help either.

The Flyers did make 12/33 of their three-point attempts but only got to the free-throw line nine times. They did have 14 offensive rebounds for 15 second chance points though.

Who the standout performers were

What the absence of your captain and star point guard does is provide opportunity for others, and it was stand-in captain Amy Atwell who made a hot start for the Lynx and finished with 24 points, six rebounds and two assists including going 12/13 at the foul line.

Steph Gorman also set herself a new WNBL career high with 12 points to go with two steals and two rebounds on the back of shooting 5/7 from the floor and 2/3 from three-point territory.

Miela Goodchild also finished with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists with Alex Ciabattoni contributing six points and four rebounds, Ash Hannan six points and three boards, and Emily Potter four points, four rebounds and two steals.

Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard contributed four points, four rebounds and three assists, Chloe Forster two points and two boards, and Teige Morrell two points and five rebounds.

Leilani Mitchell went 5/12 from three-point range to top-score for the Flyers with 22 points while Bec Cole had 21 points and seven assists, Mercedes Russell 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Maddi Rocci 13 points, nine assists and nine steals.

How the game panned out

Without Anneli Maley and Aari McDonald, avoiding a slow start was important for the Lynx but it didn’t quite pan out with the Flyers scoring the opening eight points before Amy Atwell opened Perth’s account after almost three and-a-half minutes.

Atwell then hit a three soon after that sparked a 7-0 scoring run completed by Alex Ciabattoni and Ash Hannan. When Atwell knocked down a second three-pointer, suddenly the Lynx were back level having scored 12 of 16 points after giving up the opening eight.

The Lynx were able to keep that momentum going too and Steph Gorman hit six consecutive points on her own to help her team finish with an 8-2 run and to go into quarter-time leading 25-19 on the back of 53 per cent field goal shooting to 30 from the Flyers.

It was then veteran Flyers guard Leilani Mitchell who lit it up in the second quarter. She hit four three-pointers to help put Southside back on top but Perth was able to steady and get back within three points on the back of buckets to Ciabattoni and Atwell.

However, Southside scored the last seven points of the half to go into the break leading 53-42 with the 10 turnovers hurting the Lynx despite shooting 48 per cent from the field to 45.

Perth opened the scoring for the second half down low from Emily Potter but Southside scored the next nine points to open up an 18-point lead.

The Lynx didn’t stop fighting, though, and with a 7-3 run to close the third period, they had cut the Flyers lead back 67-53 by three quarter-time.

A couple of early three-pointers in the fourth quarter from Gorman kept the Lynx within 13 points, and that remained the deficit after a three-point play as well from Goodchild and a bucket from Hannan.

However, the Flyers pulled away including getting seven straight points from Bec Cole late in the piece before ending up winning by 21.

What’s next for the Lynx

The game is the last for the Lynx before the FIBA international window ahead of the last two matches of the season following that.

First up after the break for the Lynx will be the last home game at Bendat Basketball Centre for the season on Sunday February 18 against the UC Capitals.

The regular season will then come to a close the following Saturday night on the road to the Bendigo Spirit.


PERTH LYNX 70 (Atwell 24, Gorman 12, Goodchild 10)

SOUTHSIDE FLYERS 91 (Mitchell 22, Russell 21, Cole 21)