The JCU Townsville Fire have claimed the inaugural Queensland derby after accounting for the SEQ Stars in Logan tonight.
The top-four blockbuster was the first encounter between the teams, with the Stars entering the contest as favourites after storming to the top of the Wattle Valley WNBL ladder.
But after accounting for Melbourne last week, the Fire demonstrated that they are not prepared to give up their title defence easily, fighting back from a double digit deficit in the opening term to secure an 88-85 win.
Skipper Suzy Batkovic once again led the way with a game-high 30 points and seven rebounds – entering the main break with 19 and five – while partner-in-crime, Cayla George, reeled off 15 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.
Tamara Tatham was also impressive with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists, while Micaela Cocks’ scoring punch off the bench reaped 13 points.
Assistant coach Claudia Brassard was happy with the Fire’s win after setting themselves for the first leg of their road double.
“We always chase the first game of any double,” Brassard said.
“Our forwards played very well. Suzy was great throughout the entire game, while Cayla came up with some big blocks and was great on the glass.
“It was probably Tamara Tatham’s best game for the club, so that’s a real positive and hopefully she can take confidence from that performance as we head towards the second half of the season.”
While the Fire shot 54% from the floor it was Townsville junior Nadeen Payne (26 points and four rebounds) who appeared as if she would be the difference between the two sides as she nailed her first five attempts from beyond the arc.
Lauren Mansfield (20 points, three rebounds and three assists) continued her impressive early season form, but two technical fouls, one on co-captain Rachel Jarry and the other on coach Shane Heal inside the final four minutes, ultimately cost the Stars in a tight contest.
The Fire will back up on Sunday against the University of Canberra Capitals from midday at AIS Arena with Cherie Gallagher poised to play her 100th game.
Click here to see full box scores from tonight’s game.