MCDONALD ENSURES LYNX REMAIN UNBEATEN
Aari McDonald again showed what an exciting addition she is to the Perth Lynx for WNBL24 by putting up 34 points with the team’s defence shining on the way to the 86-76 home win over the Bendigo Spirit to remain unbeaten to start the new season.
The Lynx opened the 2023/24 WNBL season with wins at home to the Sydney Flames and Adelaide Lightning, and were back at Bendat Basketball Centre on Friday for Round 3 against the winless Bendigo Spirit.
It proved to be a hard fought contest, but in the end the Lynx did enough to put 86 points on the board led by the 34 from McDonald and were strong defensively to keep their perfect record alive after three rounds.
Where the game was won
While the Lynx did well offensively to score the 86 points on shooting 46 per cent from the field and did well getting to the charity stripe again for 19/21 free-throws, it was the growth defensively that was the highlight of the performance.
While Perth did give up 17 offensive rebounds to Bendigo, it only resulted in five second chance points with the Lynx having 10 offensive boards themselves that turned into 12 points.
The Lynx also limited the Spirit to shooting 40 per cent from the field and to go 6/21 at 28 per cent from behind the three-point arc while also forcing them into 14 turnovers from which they were able to score 16 points.
Who the standout performers were
It was yet another brilliant performance for the Lynx from star point guard Aari McDonald. The Atlanta Dream WNBA gun backed up her 29 points and 11 assists last week against Adelaide by putting up 34 points to go with six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
She shot 13/19 from the field along with 3/7 from behind the three-point line and 5/6 at the foul line in almost 34 minutes of court time.
Emily Potter continues to have a significant impact in the five spot to start her WNBL career with another 14 points, three rebounds and two assists on 6/8 shooting with captain Anneli Maley finishing with 10 points and 14 boards against the team she won an MVP award with.
Miela Goodchild added nine points and five assists, Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard eight points and six rebounds, Amy Atwell five points, Alex Ciabattoni four points and two boards, and Steph Gorman two points and two assists.
Alicia Froling finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for Bendigo with Abbey Wehrung adding 15 points and Rockingham Flames NBL1 West star Mehryn Kraker 13.
How the game panned out
Up against her former team, Lynx captain Anneli Maley opened the game with the first three points at the foul line before Aari McDonald hit the next four points and helped the home side to a 9-5 advantage.
McDonald added another eight points late in the opening quarter including a couple of three-pointers with Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard also hitting from deep to help the Lynx to the 24-20 lead after one.
Bendigo started the second quarter strongly with the opening six points but the Lynx were soon back on top and it was a 6-0 run started by Alex Ciabattoni that turned things back their way.
McDonald then converted an and-one play and Perth finished the half scoring the last seven points to ensure a 46-42 edge at the break while shooting 51 per cent from the floor and with McDonald delivering 19 points on 8/10 shooting herself.
Perth opened the second half impressively with a 10-2 run including three balls from McDonald and Miela Goodchild to stretch the lead to 12, and by three quarter-time the margin was still at 11.
The Lynx pushed it out further early in the final period with eight consecutive points including a three-point play from McDonald and long-range bomb from Hoycard.
That had Perth 14 points in front but Bendigo refused to lie down chasing a first win of the season and scored the next nine points to get back within five points.
They couldn’t quite get any closer, though, and the Lynx had enough answers down the stretch to end up winning by 10 points and improve to 3-0 on the season.
What’s next for the Lynx
After a three-game home stand to start the season, the Lynx now play their first road game of WNBL24 up against Lauren Jackson and the Southside Flyers on Wednesday night in Melbourne.
The Lynx will then be back home next Saturday night to play host to Sami Whitcomb and the defending champion Townsville Fire in a rematch of the semi finals from last season.
CYGNETT WNBL ROUND 3
PERTH LYNX 86 (McDonald 34, Potter 14, Maley 10)
BENDIGO SPIRIT 76 (Froling 18, Wehrung 15, Kraker 13)