The JCU Townsville Fire have one final opportunity to sew up back-to-back minor premierships in the Wattle Valley WNBL after falling to Perth tonight.
Entering the final round needing just one win to secure top spot and a home semi-final at Townsville RSL Stadium next Sunday, the Fire faltered at their first attempt as a 21-5 turnover count led to a 69-82 loss.
Double-doubles from Suzy Batkovic (19 points and 10 rebounds) and Cayla George (11 points and 16 rebounds) – along with 13 points, three rebounds and two assists from Nat Novosel – was not enough for the reigning WNBL champions who were jumped in the opening term and never fully recovered.
The Lynx poured in the opening nine points of the game and led 14-4 during the early going before Batkovic put her team on her shoulders.
The three-time WNBL MVP finished the term with 12 points and four rebounds as the Fire somehow found themselves holding a four-point lead.
They coughed up their lead at the start of the second term, however, as the Lynx, who are returning to the WNBL finals for the first time in 16 seasons, made their run courtesy of a 16-9 term.
While the two sides went back and forth during the third term, a 17-7 run either side of the final change split the game wide open as Perth secured a rare victory over the Fire.
The Fire will back up tomorrow night when they face Adelaide from 7pm.
Click here to see full box scores from tonight’s game.