A herculean performance from JCU Townsville Fire captain Suzy Batkovic was not enough to stand in the way of a red-hot Melbourne Boomers.
With a fourth Olympics on the horizon, Batkovic sent a swift reminder to the Australian coaching panel that she should be among the first pick with a massive 32 points and 12 rebounds as she single handily tried to will her side to victory.
The Boomers had the answers, however, as they shot the lights out from the perimeter, finishing the game at a clip of 48% while also dominating the rebound count 40-27.
“I thought Melbourne were more desperate that us tonight,” Fire coach Chris Lucas said.
“They set the tone of the game; right in the first quarter we gave up five defensive rebounds and they had nine at the half.
“They’ve shot the ball extremely well and six people in double figures and if you give up 84 points you’re not going to win a lot of games.”
Batkovic set the early tone for the Fire as she scored the first six points of the game – finishing superbly around the cylinder – as the Fire looked to assert their dominance inside.
Boomers captain Tess Madgen (19 points, six assists and four rebounds) kept her side in the early going as she answered from outside.
The Fire struggled to find any offensive rhythm – shy of feeding the ball inside to Batkovic – but somehow went into the first changed locked at 19-19.
The second term mirrored the first and the Fire again looked lethargic but a 12-4 run to close out the quarter ensured they went into the main change leading 40-39.
The Boomers split the game open in the second half as Alice Kunek (18 points), Maddie Garrick (14 points) and Brittany Smart (10 points) cut them up from outside.
Forwards Elyse Penaluna (12 points and 14 rebounds) and Kate Oliver (11 points and eight rebounds) also found their range and while Cayla George (11 points and six rebounds) found a spark near the end of the third term, the Boomers held the momentum.
Tamara Tatham (12 points, six rebounds and three steals) got better as the game wore on, but while the Fire refused to be beaten, the Boomers answered with a telling shot every time they got close.
“As a team, we were probably quiet tonight,” Batkovic said.
“I think it’s a learning curve as well.
“It’s our first game where we’ve had to play back-to-back (this season) – we’ve had singular games – but you’ve got to handle adversity.”
The Fire will look to rebound when they host the Sydney Uni Flames from 1pm on Sunday at Townsville RSL Stadium.
Click here to see live stats from tonight’s game.