MCDONALD THRIVING WITH BACKING OF HER TEAM
Aari McDonald is fresh off a match-winning performance for the Perth Lynx against the Adelaide Lightning and is thankful for the faith put in her by her coach and teammates in her first WNBL season.
McDonald joined the Lynx for her first WNBL season fresh off a strong WNBA campaign at the Atlanta Dream as part of their playoff push but there was great excitement about what she could do with Perth with coach Ryan Petrik handing her the keys to the team.
The 25-year-old from California, who completed her college at the University of Arizona before being the No. 3 pick in the 2021 WNBA Draft and playing with Atlanta since, wasn’t sure what to expect from the WNBL upon arrival but sure hasn’t wasted time adjusting.
McDonald has explosive pace and in the system Petrik wants to run pushing the ball is at the forefront. That’s where she can thrive to either take the ball to the rack, set up her teammates which includes a bevy of shooters and Emily Potter inside, or she is more than capable of shooting herself.
Now that she is eight games into her WNBL career, she’s put herself right in the MVP discussion on the back of averaging 21.4 points, 6.5 assists and 2.9 rebounds a game while shooting 46 per cent from the field, 27 per cent from three-point range and 75 per cent at the foul line.
McDonald’s full array of talents were on show on Sunday on the road to the Adelaide Lightning where she finished with 35 points and three assists, but it was a performance about much more than the numbers.
She was instrumental in leading the Lynx back from a 20-point deficit to force the game into overtime and it was her strong drive and then wonderful wrap around dish out to Amy Atwell at the three-point line that helped get the game into the extra period.
Then with Perth down one with half a minute to play, McDonald knocked down the biggest shot of the game with a massive three-pointer with 27 seconds on the clock.
That proved the match-winning bucket to improve the Lynx to a 5-3 record on the season and she was happy that her coach and teammates had so much faith in her even after a late mishap on a pass to the invisible teammate.
“Ryan trusts me for sure and my teammates trust me as well to try and make the right play,” McDonald said.
“I’m not happy with my turnover to Casper there in a crucial time though. But I made up for it and shoutout for Ryan to trust me by calling that last play.”
Sunday’s win is a performance McDonald hopes the Lynx can build on with a three-game home stand starting Wednesday night against the Sydney Flames.
“Definitely moving forward this is the game you know that we kind of have to go back and look to see how we set the tone and came back,” McDonald said.
“We fought through adversity so definitely we’re going to keep this in our memory.”
McDonald wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the WNBL when arriving for the first fresh off the WNBA season, but even the physicality that quickly stood out is something that she’s been able to embrace.
The level of play even without the star imports with the local Australian talents is something she has been tremendously impressed by too, and she couldn’t be happier with her decision to have joined the Lynx.
“It took me back to my college days at the start of the season when I was getting beat up at Arizona, but I’ve adjusted fine. I like the physicality and it didn’t take me long to adjust and get used to it,” McDonald said.
“Take us away and I still think is a talented league. It’s very physical, I definitely need to eat my Wheaties out here. I love it, though, and I’m just glad that, speaking for the imports, that we have the opportunity to come here to compete.”