Fire fall short on Remembrance Day
The JCU Townsville Fire have fallen narrowly short against the Melbourne Boomers in their Grand Final replay.
Facing off for the first time since the Fire captured their third title in four seasons, the 2017/18 grand finalists were locked in an arm wrestle for most of the encounter before the Boomers came home late to register a 78-70 win.
WNBA import Lyndsay Aleen was the difference between the two teams as she finished with 29 points, while former Opal Maddie Garrick chipped in with 17.
For the Fire, Darcee Garbin headlined four players in double figures with 13 points but they were unable to maintain the rage after leading for the majority of the game.
Skipper Suzy Batkovic is expected to shrug off a neck injury ahead of Friday’s game against Adelaide and a return bout against the Boomers in Melbourne on Sunday.
The loss consigns the reigning champions to a 2-4 record and in desperate need to find their best form fast.
“There were positives to take out of the game,” Fire coach Claudia Brassard said.
“We started much better, and in Suzy’s absence, we still found a way to keep the scoreboard ticking over which was pleasing.
“We had some defensively lapses – particularly in the last quarter – and if you are going to give up 22 points in the final term then you’re not going to win many games.”
The Fire’s long-range shooting touch was finally found in the opening quarter as Casey Samuels stroked two triples en route to 10 points and three boards for the game as the hosts went in to the first change leading 20-19.
A Laurin Mincy (eight points) triple early in the second opened up a six-point cushion before Zitina Aokuso (12 points and five rebounds) was injected into the contest with immediate impact.
With just one point separating the teams at the main change, Micaela Cocks (10 points and seven rebounds) came out of the changerooms strongly as she stroked an early trey to extend the margin.
The Boomers continued to hang tough, however, as they counter-punched to reduce the margin to 56-59 at three-quarter-time.
As the contest wore on, Allen’s ability to penetrate and shoot from outside with equal impact proved telling as the Boomers clinched a narrow win.
The Fire will look to rebound on Friday as they start a three-game away stretch.
Click here to see box scores between the Fire and the Boomers.