LYNX THUMP SPIRIT TO MOVE CLOSER TO FINALS
The Perth Lynx now have one foot in the door of a WNBL finals appearance thanks to a commanding 99-78 win in their final home game of the regular season against the Bendigo Spirit.
The Lynx were back home on Saturday night to host the Spirit at Bendat Basketball Centre with both teams locked in a tantalising battle over fourth position with two rounds of the WNBL23 season remaining.
How the game was won
It was a standout performance at both ends of the floor from the Lynx not only putting up the 99 points but also holding the Spirit to 78 with 19 of those points from Bendigo coming in the opening five minutes of the fourth quarter.
However, the Lynx answered that challenge and after the Spirit were able to close to within eight points with just under six minutes to play, Perth dominated from there outscoring Bendigo 14-1 to close the game and score the 21-point win.
The Lynx shot 49 per cent from the field as a team including hitting 12/30 from beyond the arc and 19/23 from the foul line in an efficient offensive performance.
The Spirit’s great strength is their ability to crash the boards led by Anneli Maley but the Lynx actually won the rebound count 42 to 41 while limiting Bendigo to shooting 41 per cent overall, 10/26 from three-point land and 6/10 at the free-throw line.
The Lynx improve to an 11-8 record on the season and largely destiny is in their own hands. They will take part in the finals series unless Bendigo beats Townsville on Wednesday, and if they lose both road games in the last round to Adelaide and Canberra.
Who the standout performers were
Amy Atwell had a terrific shooting performance nailing 5/9 from three-point territory on her way to 19 points and three assists for the night.
Captain Sami Whitcomb was tremendous as well with 18 points, four assists and four rebounds while vice-captain Lauren Scherf threatened a triple-double once more with 12 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
There were plenty more strong performers with Robbi Ryan finishing with 17 points, four rebounds and four assists, Alex Sharp 14 points and eight rebounds, and Chloe Bibby 11 points, six boards and two blocked shots.
Anneli Maley ended up top-scoring for Bendigo with 16 points and nine rebounds with Ally Wilson adding 14 points and three boards, and Alicia Froling 12 points and nine rebounds.
How the game panned out
The Lynx came out firing racing to a 7-2 lead starting with buckets to Chloe Bibby and Sami Whitcomb, and then a three ball to Amy Atwell.
A Robbi Ryan and-one kept Perth on top 10-4 and then captain Whitcomb kept that advantage at 13-8, but then Alicia Froling turned the tide for the Spirit when she entered the floor.
She would end up with 10 points and three rebounds in the last 5:42 of the first quarter but still the Lynx were leading 25-20 by three quarter-time thanks to a triple from Ryan just before the buzzer.
Perth went into quarter-time shooting 56 per cent from the field and with eight points from Ryan, six from Bibby and five from Whitcomb.
The Lynx were able to stretch their lead out to double-figures during the second quarter on the back of a couple more three-pointers to Atwell, and another to Ryan.
Buckets to Lauren Scherf and Alex Sharp stretched that Perth advantage to 11 points and soon after a three-point play from Bibby and a couple of free-throws from Scherf had it out to 13.
That’s where it remained at the half-time break with the Lynx on top 53-40 with the team shooting 53 per cent from the field with Ryan leading the way with 13 to go with three assists.
Whitcomb opened up the second half with a three-pointer and then she found Scherf rolling to the basket and she knocked down her two at the foul line to put Perth up 18.
Threes to Whitcomb and Atwell maintained that 18-point lead for the Lynx which grew to 20 with four minutes to go in the third quarter with a couple from the stripe to Whitcomb.
The Lynx advantage got to as much as 24 points heading towards three quarter-time after a three-point knockdown from Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard. Even though the Spirit managed the last five points, Perth was still in control 78-59.
Even though an Atwell triple put the Lynx back up 20 early in the fourth, the Spirit weren’t done with yet and would make a charge. By the time Ally Wilson sparked a 10-0 run with a couple of three-point makes of her own, the margin was back to eight with 5:45 to play.
The Lynx had all the answers, though, and went on a 14-1 run after that out of a timeout from Ryan Petrik to close the game.
A three-point play from Sharp and driving layup steadied the Lynx enough as they ended up winning by 21 to wrap up the season split with the Spirit and take a step closer to taking part in the #WNBL23 finals.
What’s next for the Lynx
The Lynx now finish with two road games in the final round of the WNBL regular season against the Adelaide Lightning on Thursday and UC Capitals on Saturday.
The only way Bendigo can now finish fourth instead is if the Spirit beats the Townsville Fire on Wednesday and the Lynx lose both their remaining games.
If the Spirit loses on Wednesday to the Fire, the Lynx are guaranteed of a finals spot. Should Bendigo win, Perth has to win one of those road matches.
CYGNETT WNBL ROUND 15
PERTH LYNX 99 (Atwell 19, Whitcomb 18, Ryan 17)
BENDIGO SPIRIT 78 (Maley 16, A Wilson 14, Froling 12)