February 18, 2024 | Perth Lynx news

Aari McDonald made a spectacular return and turned match-winner in the fourth quarter for the Perth Lynx with captain Anneli Maley brilliant as well in the 94-79 home win against the UC Capitals to keep their WNBL season alive.

The Lynx still need a lot to go right if they are to take part in the WNBL finals with one game of the regular season to go, but all they could do was win the last match at Bendat Basketball Centre for the campaign on Sunday afternoon first of all.

It was hard work but in the end the Lynx got the job done with the 15-point victory to improve to a 10-10 record on the season and with one game remaining which they must win to remain a hope of squeezing back into the top four.

Where the game was won

To the credit of the bottom-placed Capitals they kept on fighting even when the Lynx threatened to blow the game open.

That happened through the second quarter and the Lynx closed the first half on a 21-11 run to lead by 14 at the break, but by three quarter-time it was just a three-point ball game again.

The game was up for grabs and it was Aari McDonald in her first game of 2024 after a knee injury who took charge in the first part of the fourth quarter in spectacular fashion for the Lynx.

In a matter of minutes, she made three huge three-pointers and converted another three-point play to take the game out of the hands of the Caps with the Lynx then able to convert that into the 15-point victory.

The Lynx ended up shooting 47 per cent from the field for the game opposed to the 39 for Canberra along with knocking down 11/30 from three-point range to 5/33.

Perth also were able to go 15/23 at the foul line compared with 8/11 along with pulling down 11 more rebounds than the Caps for the game.

Who the standout performers were

The return of Aari McDonald was a spectacular one for the Lynx and only emphasised how much she was missed over the past eight games, and why she could well have been the MVP favourite when she hurt her knee.

She finished with 24 points, three rebounds and three assists on the back of shooting 10/19 from the field and 3/6 from three-point range.

Lynx captain Anneli Maley was superb as well delivering 17 points, 20 rebounds and eight assists with 6/8 shooting from the floor and 2/3 from behind the three-point line.

Amy Atwell also scored 19 points with four three-pointers for Perth while Emily Potter contributed 18 points, four assists, three rebounds and two blocks, and Miela Goodchild 10 points, three rebounds and two assists.

Alex Ciabattoni added three points, two rebounds and two assists, Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard two points and five rebounds, and Sarah Allen scored her first WNBL point as well at the free-throw line.

Gemma Potter top-scored for the Capitals with 20 points while former Lynx forward Alex Sharp had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Rising star Jade Melbourne also contributed 15 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and four steals.

How the game panned out

The Caps might be anchored to bottom spot in the WNBL, but they have continued to play with spirit and started Sunday’s game encouragingly with the opening six points including the first score from ex-Lynx forward Alex Sharp.

Perth had to respond and did so beginning with a triple from captain Anneli Maley. Emily Potter then completed a three-point play and that turned into 10 straight points for the home team to grab the lead.

That advantage was out to 16-10 shortly after thanks to Amy Atwell and was still 18-15 at quarter-time thanks to a late bucket from the returning Aari McDonald.

It was Miela Goodchild who kept the Lynx on top with five quick points to start the second quarter and then it was McDonald’s turn to make her mark on the contest.

The dynamic point guard scored Perth’s next six points to keep her team on top before combining with Atwell and Maley for an 8-0 run to push the lead out to 13.

The Lynx would lead 46-32 by the half-time break thanks to a triple from Atwell to go into the interval.

The Lynx lead was back out to 14 points early in the second half with Alex Ciabattoni hitting a three-pointer, but the Capitals wouldn’t go away. By three quarter-time the advantage for the home side was just 62-59.

The game was on the line but McDonald made sure that didn’t last long when she had a scorching start to the fourth frame. She hit two quick three-pointers to push the Perth lead back out to 11 points.

She then completed a three-point play shortly after to keep the lead at 10 points and it was then 13 with an and-one as well from Atwell. When McDonald hit another three, the Lynx were answering every challenge.

While Canberra kept on fighting, Perth was able to push the lead out late including with another three-pointer from Atwell on the way to the eventual 15-point win to keep their season alive.

What’s next for the Lynx

The Lynx now have one game of the WNBL regular season remaining and that is next Saturday on the road to the Bendigo Spirit.

Bendigo has now moved up to fourth position heading into the last game for both teams of the regular season. So a win for the Spirit and they will be guaranteed of making the top four but a Lynx win and that’s where things get interesting.

The Lynx are up against it to make the finals sitting a game behind Melbourne, Bendigo and Sydney, but the only chance to make it is to beat the Spirit and then hope the Flames lose away to Townsville on Sunday.


PERTH LYNX 94 (McDonald 24, Atwell 19, Potter 18)

UC CAPITALS 79 (Potter 20, Sharp 16, Melbourne 15)