The JCU Townsville Fire’s title defence has taken a severe hit with a 73-80 loss to Perth tonight.
With two minutes remaining, the Fire were within a possession of re-taking the lead but the Lynx held their nerve down the stretch – as the two-time defending WNBL champions wondered what could have been – before falling on their opponents’ floor.
During a blistering start to the game, the Fire opened up a 7-0 lead as Mia Murray (12 points and seven assists), Suzy Batkovic (25 points and 13 rebounds) and Micaela Cocks (nine points and two rebounds) hit the scoreboard.
The Lynx struck back with a 13-2 run before going into the first change leading 17-14.
The WNBL heavyweights traded blows in the second quarter with little separating either team before a final minute handed the Lynx a stop and a score – from the three-point line no less – as they went into half-time leading 73-80.
New Zealand international Chevannah Paalvast (nine points) sparked the Fire in the second half as the visitors threatened to blow open the game.
The Lynx held their nerve when it mattered most, however, as Sami Whitcomb (25 points) and Carley Mijovic (20 points) combined for 11/19 from beyond the arc to steal the game.
The Fire will be desperate to rebound tomorrow against Adelaide, with championship-coach Chris Lucas desperate to open the Lightning’s account.