MALEY INSPIRES LYNX TO PERFECT START
The Perth Lynx made an impressive start to the new WNBL season celebrating Indigenous Round beating the Sydney Flames 85-71 at Bendat Basketball Centre with the tone set by captain Anneli Maley.
With the energy provided by Maley in her first game for the Lynx infectious for her teammates, the Lynx opened the game with the first six points and were never headed from there on the way to the 14-point home victory on Friday night to open the 2023/24 season.
Where the game was won
The Lynx never trailed the entire night after scoring the opening six points with the lead getting out to as much as 18 points late in the piece while living up to their billing as getting up plenty of three-point attempts.
While only making 9/36 as a team, the game style was plain to see from the Lynx and they also did well getting to the line where they went 16/20 along with outrebounding Sydney 48 to 43 largely thanks to Maley.
That included 12 offensive rebounds for 16 second chance points while the Lynx finished with five players scoring in double-figures, and nine hitting the scoresheet overall.
There was a lot to like in the effort of the Lynx overall and Maley showed why she was the WNBL MVP in 2022 by producing a dynamic first up performance. She finished with 15 points, 21 rebounds and four assists.
WNBA star point guard Aari McDonald was exciting too with 18 points and six assists with vice-captain Amy Atwell putting up 13 points to go with five rebounds and two steals.
Another new face, Miela Goodchild, ended up with 11 points while reigning NBL1 West Grand Final MVP and Best Defensive Player Steph Gorman had 11 points and two rebounds on 3/5 three-point shooting in her WNBL debut.
Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard contributed six points, three steals and two rebounds, Emily Potter six points, seven boards and two assists, Chloe Forster three points, and returning mother Alex Ciabattoni two points and an assist.
Lauren Nicholson top-scored for Sydney with 17 points and six rebounds with Emma Clarke and Lara McSpadden adding 10 points apiece.
How the game panned out
It was the perfect start to the season for the Lynx and it was vice-captain Amy Atwell leading the charge early with the game’s first four points. New recruit Emily Potter then scored inside too and Perth was up 6-0.
Captain Anneli Maley then sparked another 6-0 run later in the opening quarter before Aari McDonald scored her first WNBL points, and a three-point play from Miela Goodchild had the Lynx on top 20-13 by the end of one.
Sydney did close the gap to three to open the second stanza but it didn’t take the Lynx long to pull away once more and when Atwell and Steph Gorman hit three-pointers the margin was back out to five.
When Atwell and Goodchild hit threes just before half-time as well as part of an 8-0 run, the Lynx were on top by 11 and still leading 38-29 by the break holding the Flames to those 29 points on 32 per cent field goal shooting and 1/12 from downtown.
The offence might have not quite clicked for Perth with the 35 per cent shooting and going 4/19 from deep, but captain Maley already had 12 of the team’s 27 rebounds to help with the nine-point edge.
The Flames did start the second half well scoring six straight points to close the deficit to four, but Perth responded thanks to buckets from Goodchild and McDonald.
Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard then hit a pair of three balls, Gorman nailed her second of game and by three quarter-time the Lynx remained in control leading by nine.
Sydney were able to cut the margin back to five a couple of times in the early stages of the final period, but the Lynx continued to have all the answers. It was an 8-0 run with six of the points from McDonald that blew the lead back out to 13.
Gorman hit another three to push the lead to 14 soon after, McDonald’s and-one play made it 15 and then a triple from Maley made it 17 before the Lynx opened their season with the emphatic 14-point victory.
What’s next for the Lynx
The Lynx remain at Bendat Basketball Centre to take on the Adelaide Lightning next Saturday night with tip-off set for 6.30pm once again.
The Lightning lost their opening game of the WNBL season on Thursday night at home to the Melbourne Boomers and have another clash this weekend on the road to the UC Capitals on Sunday before heading west.
CYGNETT WNBL INDIGENOUS ROUND
PERTH LYNX 85 (McDonald 18, Maley 15, Atwell 13)
SYDNEY FLAMES 71 (Nicholson 17, Clarke 10, McSpadden 10)