Compiled by Roy Ward. Photo courtesy of NQ Images.
UC Capitals 80 – Perth 77
Game: The Capitals were so close for so many weeks but finally claimed their first win of the season after 21 losses. For one of the first times this campaign the Caps dominated inside behind the play of Abby Bishop (25 points, 15 rebounds) and DeNesha Stallworth (21 points, eight rebounds) and also had strong games from Renee Montgomery (13 points) and Steph Talbot (13 points). Lynx forward Carley Mijovic was again a force with 28 points while Sami Whitcomb had 26 points and seven steals but the Lynx will rue this loss as they fight for a top-two place.
Abby Bishop, Capitals: “It’s funny, it’s the first game we’ve won but at the end of it we were so excited. It had a special feel and it was great to get that win against a great side who is in the hunt for a championship,” Bishop told Canberra Times. “Everyone came out to play and the crowd was awesome to send Loz [Jackson] off. We thought one of our advantages was going inside and obviously it worked.”
Andy Stewart, Lynx: “I’m incredibly disappointed. The Canberra girls played really well but we are incredibly disappointed in this result – Canberra was always going to get a win but we hoped it wouldn’t be against us. We just aren’t firing at the moment and we have a lot of soul searching to do.”
Townsville 89 – Dandenong 49
Game: Townsville kept building their lead with each quarter and the Rangers were powerless to stop them from taking a sizeable late season win. A 35-9 third term killed off the game as the Fire shot well and had Suzy Batkovic (24 points) and Natalie Novosel (20 points) on song once again. The Fire also dominated the rebound count 49-35 as Cayla George had 14 points and 17 rebounds. Rangers duo Steph Cumming (13 points) and Annalise Pickrel (12 points) led the visitors who may find themselves needing to come back to Townsville once the finals begin.
Claudia Brassard, Fire: “We spoke about it before the game that Dandenong were coming up here to try and finish in the top two but we pretty much smacked them down and said no way,” Brassard told Townsville Bulletin. “That’s the spot we want, top spot, and it took us a while to gel as a team but we are peaking at the right time and playing our best basketball. What I was most proud of was keeping them to that score, defensively we did a great job and for us to hold them below 50 is a brilliant effort.”
Larissa Anderson, Rangers coach: “I have to put it back to defence and letting them do whatever they wanted to do. Offensively we were all over the shop and I’m not going to take anything away from Townsville, they shot the lights out tonight and that’s twice they have done that against us. That would probably be the best percentage they have shot at all season because they got such good looks. We did ourselves no favours, I’ve never seen us shoot so badly when we had 11 more shots than them and shot such an abysmal percentage.”
Perth 88 – Sydney Uni 85
Game: Perth bounced back from a tough loss to Canberra splitting their weekend road-trip and taking a close win over the Flames which ended their finals hopes. The Flames took the lead with just over a minute to play but Betnijah Laney regained it for her side then Sami Whitcomb made four late free throws to seal the victory. Whitcomb led the Lynx with 24 points while Carley Mijovic added 20 point and Laney 18. Katie-Rae Ebzery was exceptional for the Flames while Carly Boag had 14 points and Casey Samuels 12 points.
Andy Stewart, Lynx coach: “After a loss like last night’s [Canberra] you wonder if your side will have it still but we fought back even when we were 15 points down and I’m so rapt with them.”
Shannon Seebohm, Flames coach: “I’m proud of how the girls played and we have continued to build. Having Carolyn Swords out has been a big loss for us and the girls are still adjusting to not having her in the group but I feel like they have started to really buy in to the way we want to play and have given us a chance to win late in games. Hopefully we can break through next game.”
Adelaide 88 – Melbourne 62
Game: Adelaide simply had too much firepower for the undermanned and confidence-sapped Boomers who battled but couldn’t find an answer for Kayla Standish (26 points, 9 rebounds) and Mikaela Ruef (17 points, 13 rebounds) inside. Olivia Thompson (14 points) and Alice Kunek (11 points) showed hints of good shooting touch but the Boomers’ couldn’t make shots nor regularly break down the Lightning’s half court press, conceding 24 turnovers. Leilani Mitchell (17 points) and Kelly Bowen (16 points) also had great nights with Bowen knocking down shots from outside and Mitchell once again showing why she ranks amount the best playmakers in the league.
Tracy York, Lightning coach: “I’m very very happy because we just played a solid 40 minutes. We executed well, I thought our defence was really good for the main part. We are down three players this trip and had some players who don’t usually get minutes who came on and did a good job.”
Guy Molloy, Boomers coach: “Our confidence is down right now and we can’t quite find the defensive energy to start games and get ourselves out of this funk. We are not playing like I want the Boomers’ club to play and I don’t care who we have my attitude is that we are not just waiting for the season to finish, every practice we are trying to get better and every game we are trying to get better – I still believe we have work to do.”
Adelaide 92 – Bendigo 78
Game: Adelaide star Leilani Mitchell took this game by the scruff of the neck and shook every possible play out of it on the way to a match-winning 35-point haul. Mitchell’s masterclass included six assists while playing all 40 minutes as the Lightning shot 55% from the field and claimed their second win of their Victorian road trip. Belinda Snell’s 19 points and 17 from Heather Oliver led the Spirit but the home side’s defence had no answers for Mitchell nor any other of the Lightning’s main scorers. In the process, the Spirit coughed up a game which could have kept them in control of their own finals destiny.
Leilani Mitchell, Lightning: “I didn’t know what would happen with the shooting today because we may not have had any legs after playing last night. But we got our in transition early and got some layups and easy shots and we rolled from that. We drove here this morning and had some great efforts from the whole team.”
Simon Pritchard, Spirit: “You have to take your hat off to Leilani Mitchell and their group – she was in sweet form today, Lei was at her best, if she can play better than that I’d like to see it. Everything she threw up went in.”
SEQ 81 – UC Capitals 76
Game: With point guard Lauren Mansfield out, the Stars still found a way to take a late win over the Capitals and keep themselves in the top four. Once again the Capitals were right in the contest but they couldn’t match the home side’s scoring in the final minutes as imports Jordan Hooper (22 points, eight rebounds) and Ify Ibekwe (18 points, 17 rebounds) led the way while Rachel Jarry (13 points, nine assists) and Nadeen Payne (13 points) also made key shots. DeNesha Stallworth (21 points, seven rebounds) and Renee Montgomery (18 points) led the Capitals while Steph Talbot had 12 points, 16 rebounds and five assists.
Megan Thompson, Stars: “That game was a grind and it was always going to because they were coming off a good win but we got there in the end. We knew Lauren Mansfield was out so we had to make some adjustments there and a lot of our girls have long legs and are good in transition so when we could get those run-outs we looked good. Rachel Jarry handled the ball quite well and Amy Lewis stepped up after being out with injury. The girls all stood up and used each other for support to get this win.”
Carrie Graf, Capitals coach: “I thought it was a pretty physical, scrappy start but it set the tone and a good challenge. It was physical on the boards with both sides going at it but I thought it turned into a good contest. We had a great shot in this one but in those last two minutes we couldn’t hit shots and they did and Ibekwe got away from us on the boards in the last quarter and came up with some match-winning rebounds down the stretch.”
You won’t see Adelaide Lightning or University of Canberra Capitals in the finals this season but both had memorable weekends turning on some of their best form of the campaign.
The Capitals finally broke through for their first win of the season after 21 straight losses while the Lighting won both games of their Victoria road trip and will end the season with a double-figure win tally despite throwing their team together late in the off-season.
In Canberra, the celebrations were genuine for the club who made sure departing coach Carrie Graf and stars Lauren Jackson and Jess Bibby could experience a win before their time with the Capitals was up.
Graf told Canberra Times it was a great win for her side.
“We haven’t had a lead in the last quarter all year and we had to dig deep,” she said.
“They made a big run, Carley Mijovic was unconscious and [Steph] Talbot’s defence tonight was big, and Abby Bishop’s was an MVP performance.
“Defensively we were tough at times and they’ve got some players who make some world class shots. The duck’s gone, we’ve got one in that column.”
The Lightning were driven by classy point guard Leilani Mitchell who dominated both their wins over Melbourne Boomers and especially in their win over the Spirit in Bendigo on Sunday where she scored 35 points.
Lightning coach Tracy York said her side was hitting their straps and she hoped they could retain the core of the side into the future.
“People who have experienced putting a whole new team together know it’s a lot of work,” York said.
“Then it takes time to gel and so I think our first part of the season compared to now is just night and day.
“We have evolved and we probably need to have two more months of the season to go – that would be good for us.”
Megan Hustwaite (@MeganHustwaite) from the Knox Leader covers Maddie Garrick’s rise as a starting guard for the Melbourne Boomers: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/east/sport/maddie-garrick-grabs-increased-opportunities-with-both-hands-in-debut-wnbl-season-with-melbourne-boomers/news-story/b0ed7a6404fc30bcf38792745471219b
The Age looks closer at a costly loss for the Spirit on Sunday: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/wnbl-bendigo-spirit-lose-to-adelaide-lightning-face-prospect-of-missing-finals-20160214-gmtqb0.html
Jon Tuxworth (@Tuxy81) of the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the Caps are ready to play finals spoiler after breaking their duck: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/basketball/wnbl-bendigo-spirit-lose-to-adelaide-lightning-face-prospect-of-missing-finals-20160214-gmtqb0.html
Amanda Lulham (@amandalulham) of the Daily Telegraph covers the end of the Flames’ finals hopes: http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/sport/basketball/sydney-flames-bow-out-of-wnbl-title-chase-after-loss-to-perth-lynx-at-home/news-story/896c407bd7b5f49977e5b07022101367