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WNBL Round 10 Review
Credit Geoff Tripp for photography.
Bendigo just managed to outlast a young and defiant Melbourne team by 5 points, with their win streak now reaching 11 straight on the season. The elite side of the competition had a 15 point lead at one stage in the last quarter, before a defiant Melbourne comeback led by Amelia Todhunter and Rebecca Cole fell short, with the Boomers defeated with a deficit of 5. This in turn has pushed them back to 4th spot on the ladder, with Adelaide and Sydney in short grasp of that spot. On a poor shooting night for veteran guard Kristi Harrower (0/8FG), only one Spirit player had double-digit points. Gabe Richards dominated the young Boomer squad, finishing with 29 points, 9 rebounds and earning herself a casual 11 free throw opportunities, of which she hit 10. Amelia Todhunter was one of the best for the Boomers, relishing her new role in the starting line-up at the expense of Amber Hegge, 14 points and 4 rebounds she finished with. Future superstar Bec Allen also had 6 blocks, but took away some of that significance with a paltry 6 turnovers.
The first quarter saw the Boomers jump out to an early lead thanks to some terrific work from Rebecca Allen, before Gabe Richards began to finally gain a stranglehold of the game, helping her team to a 12-11 lead at the break. Tess Madgen stole the keys to the Boomer machine in the second, with the talented guard stopping the Spirit at every turn. Bendigo took a 26-23 lead into half time. Nicole Romeo managed to finish a rare league alley-oop, but that was all taken away by the fact that the Spirit went on a game-changing 11-1 run. Which led to another Bendigo lead at 3-quarter time, to a tune of 10 points. Bec Cole was warned for flopping, which was the second rare-occurrence in the league, but Chelsea Aubry soon extended the lead to 15 at one stage with a huge triple. Amelia Todhunter would hit two threes to put the Boomers back into winning contention, but it wasn't enough. Kelsey Griffin and Gabe Richards closed the game out for Bendigo.
Adelaide proved to the greater WNBL landscape that they aren't the one-woman team they look like they're made out to be. Playing without Laura Hodges due to the case of injury, Richard Dickel's squad knocking off the Sydney Uni Flames, ending their hot-streak of 4 wins straight in the process. Jess Foley (17 points, 3 assists) took it to the in-from Flames from the start, with Angela Marino (11 points, 8 rebounds) and Jo Hill (12 points, 10 rebounds) supporting her en route to a unlikely 1-point win away from home. Katie-Rae Ebzery top scored for Sydney with 18, but her impact was dampened by her inability to keep ahold of the basketball (5 turnovers). Rohanee Cox filled up the stat-sheet with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 blocks.
Foley caught Sydney off-guard to start the game, who looked like they thought they had it easy. Foley led her team to an 18-8 lead, with her scoring and dishing off some terrific assists, before Sydney closed the margin back to 2 at the break. After the Flames closed the margin due to the play of excelling point guard Alicia Poto, new Adelaide import Chay Shegog extended the Lightning's lead to 5 at the half. Shegog continued strong in the second and with the help of Nadeen Payne, Adelaide dominated the boards (finished with a +14 rebound differential), Katie-Rae Ebzery would then go on to score 8 points straight, making it an exciting one point game with just a quarter to play. Sydney stroked ahead by as much as 5 in the final term, before Angelo Marino silenced the Sydney home crowd, delivering back to back triples, to put the Lightning up by one. The home crowd thought Katie-Rae had won them the game with a late shot, before a defiant Jess Foley hit right back with a fatal dagger to win the game by a solitary point.
Dandenong as expected pulled out a win over the league's minnow side West Coast, but the Waves will leave the game with a nice taste in their mouths, only falling to one of the league's better teams by 21 points. The last time they played, West Coast lost by 54. Jenna O'Hea top scored for the Rangers with 19 points, 5 assists and 2 blocks, while Natalie Novosel (16 points), Alice Kunek (15 points), Aimee Clydesdale (10 points) and Bridgette Ardossi (10 points) all scored in double-digits. Antonia Edmonson had 17 for West Coast, while Natalie Burton had 11 points and 4 rebounds.
Dandenong found themselves being under a strong challenge from the Waves to start the game, after leading 8-2, Antonia Edmonson brought the game back to 12-12, before the Rangers extended the margin to 6 at the break. Lisa Walliburton (8 rebounds) worked hard underneath the ring to limit Dandenong opportunities, but the away side still pushed their lead to ten at the half. Jenna O'Hea quickly turned the game on its head in the third, with help from her fellow double-digit scorers in extending the lead to 20, only until Edmonson proved once again how vital she was to the Waves, in bringing the margin back down to 16. The Rangers pulled ahead in the final quarter, extending their winning margin to 21, moving themselves vitally clear of third place.
Townsville did the double against state-rivals Logan, with Suzy Batkovic asserting her dominance against the Thunder, with a casual 35 point, 19 rebound, 4 block performance. Tiana Mangakahia had 12 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in 11 minutes and Steph Cumming put up 11 points and 3 assists for the Fire. Tegan Cunningham was the best for the Thunder, 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists for the day and was supported by Hannah Zavecz 14 points and 8 rebounds, however these performances proved not to be enough, after Townsville swept the Thunder in two games this weekend, this time by a total of 24 points.
The game would start as competitive as ever, with each team going basket for basket until Townsville managed to pull ahead by 5 with 2 minutes to go, only for the Thunder to keep the game at the smallest margin through two late baskets. Suzy would begin to finally show her dominance that has previously been unseen compared to her MVP year. She dominated the Thunder bigs in the second, helping the Fire extend their lead to 11 at half time. 14 points was the margin at 3-quarter time, with Micaela Cocks hitting a large three to extend the lead to 16 at one stage. Logan coach Jason Chainey earned himself an ejection in the last quarter, which really added insult to a dismal day for the Thunder. Suzy Batkovic would hit 5/6 of the free throws after the ejection, adding insult to injury for the Thunder.
Melbourne Boomers 55 (Todhunter 14, Allen 13, Madgen 12) defeated by Bendigo Spirit 60 (Richards 24, Wilson 9)
Sydney Uni Flames 62 (Ebzery 18, Poto 11, Scheer 11) defeated by Adelaide Lightning 63 (Foley 17, Hill 12, Marino 11, Shegog 11)
West Coast Waves 58 (Edmondson 17, Burton 11) defeated by Dandenong Rangers 79 (O'Hea 19, Novosel 16, Kunek 15)
Logan Thunder 71 (Cunningham 16, Zavecz 14, Graham 12) defeated by Townsville Fire 95 (Batkovic 35, Cumming 11, Mangakahia 12)