The JCU Townsville Fire will need to qualify the long way if they are to contest a fourth consecutive Wattle Valley WNBL Grand Final.
Despite securing back-to-back minor premierships, the Fire were upstaged on their home court today as Perth advanced to the best-of-three series – and home court advantage – after registering a 91-72 victory.
The winner of next week’s Preliminary Final between the Fire and SEQ will claim the other berth.
Having finished a game clear on top of the ladder, the reigning WNBL champions were full of confidence but for successive week were bullied by the Lynx.
The Fire (13-7) conceded almost twice as many turnovers, while the Lynx pulled in 16 offensive boards.
The visitors’ dominance on the offensive glass played a key role in the win, and despite shooting a lower clip from the field, they were able to grab a 19-point win on the back of 17 more attempts.
“It was extremely disappointing,” Fire coach Chris Lucas said.
“Particularly the first half. I think defensively we were very, very average and didn’t follow the instructions; the scout.
“And that had far too many open threes early and offensive rebounds forced me to call a time out.
“Five in a row at this level is unacceptable…and all credit to Perth, they deserved the win and they deserve to have the Grand Final in their own home (stadium).”
Despite injuring her knee in the opening term, Nat Novosel was named the First Things First MVP after finishing with a team-high 15 points to go alongside five assists and four rebounds.
Cayla George pulled in another double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Micaela Cocks (12 points) and Suzy Batkovic (11 points) also finished in double figures.
For the Lynx, Betnijah Laney (23 points), Sami Whitcomb (21 points), Carley Mijovic (17 points), Tess Lavey (15 points) and Toni Edmondson (11 points) all played telling hands.
The Fire will look to bounce back on Sunday, March from 3pm when they host the Stars in the Preliminary Final.
Tickets go on sale to members from 10am on Monday, February 29 at The Ticket Shop before being opened up to the general public from 1pm on Tuesday, March 1.
Click here to see box scores from today’s Semi-Final.