WNBL Round 7 Review
Another fun-packed exciting week in women's basketball has come to a conclusion. An exciting 6 WNBL games were played in which we saw blow-outs, nail-biting encounters and even underdogs scraping through against stronger teams. Bendigo and Melbourne have pushed ahead into equal first position in the league, while West Coast once again disappointingly find themselves in last place.
Credit Geoff Tripp for photography
Dandenong pushed their way past Logan in what was another high-octane and high-scoring encounter. Playing in front of 910 at the Dandenong Basketball Stadium. Lellani Mitchell once again proved how much impact she's made for the Rangers and found her way to a 16 point, 7 rebound and 6 assist game. Also, Jenna O'Hea once again proved unguardable, going for 24 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Tegan Cunningham (15 points, 5 rebounds) and Emma Langford (12 points) stood out for the visitors, who drove to an early 17-8 start.
However, Dandenong managed to find their footing, regaining the lead at 28-23 in the space of minutes where the difference made it's way to 16 after Alice Kunek completed a spectacular four-point play. Logan brought the deficit back to 10 by half time off strong plays by both Emma Langford and Tegan Cunningham. The second half proved itself to be in either teams favor, with both teams making large runs. Sarah Graham scored all 14 of her points in the last quarter, but Dandenong's big names managed to earn another win next to their name on the ladder.
Adelaide welcomed new coach Richard Dickel into the league with a 1-point victory over last year's runners-up Townsville. The teammates of Laura Hodges finally stepped up after last week's debacle in Melbourne, with Jess Foley scoring 16 points and bringing in 6 rebounds, while Steph Talbot (10 points, 3 rebounds, 7 assists) came up big in the last quarter with the game's decisive free-throw. Even after missing the game winning shot, Kayla Standish was huge for Townsville (10 points, 8 rebounds) while Steph Cumming (15 points) scored 10 early in the first half.
The Lightning gave themselves an 8-point buffer to start the second quarter which was off the back of a strong defensive effort in shutting down Suzy Batkovic. Olivia Thompson brought her team back into the game and Micaela Cocks added to Thompson's efforts by fuelling the attack with a last-second shot to make it a 6 point game at the break. Townsville opened up the third with 5 turnovers in a row, before Adelaide found themselves ahead by 12. Teams traded baskets till the end of the game, until Townsville found themselves down 1 due to two Suzy Batkovic free throws. Steph Talbot scored 1 at the line to put Adelaide ahead when the final siren sounded.
Sydney finally got their first win inside their new Brydens Stadium against top-4 side Dandenong. The biggest story to come out of the game was the Flames stellar defense, especially on Jenna O'Hea (9 points, 2 rebounds). Sydney held the high-scoring Dandenong to only 67 points and shooting at 33%. Rohanee Cox had 19 points and 6 rebounds for the Flames, while Kayla Pederson had 13 points and 12 boards for Dandenong.
Sydney didn't give Dandenong an inch of breathing space to start, with the Rangers scoring an unforeseen 16 points in the first quarter. The Rangers shooting difficulties continued in the second with the shooting percentage of the team dropping into the 20's at one stage. Rohanee Cox and Kathleen Scheer gave Dandenong something to think about with 20 points between the both of them in the 2nd. Taking an 11 point lead into the final quarter, Sydney found themselves with the tough task of guarding Kayla Pederson and Natalie Novosel who were starting to catch fire, but once again Cox and Scheer stepped up to keep them at bay. Sydney piled on the last 9 points of the game while at 67-67, finishing with a 76-67 win.
Melbourne continued its winning ways, defeating Canberra in the round's second close encounter. After the Boomers dominant inside presence in Amber Hegge and Chelsea Poppens were both fouled out, a little bit of Rebecca Cole brilliance - where she nailed a deep 3 and two clutch free throws - sealed Melbourne the game. Jess Bibby almost turned the game towards Canberra's favour by coming off the bench and scoring 22 points.
Melbourne started strong, going on an 8-0 run at the start, but that was until Jess Bibby was subbed in. Scoring 7 points in a matter of a few possessions, she quickly closed the gap to 1. Running off a 18-13 deficit at the quarter, Carley Mijovic and Isabella Strunc had terrific quarters with Canberra taking the lead 35-30 into the break. Chelsea Poppens and Amber Hegge both struggled to find court time through foul trouble which lead to Melbourne's young core (Shanae Greaves, Rebecca Cole and Rebecca Allen) having to step up. At 61-59, Jess Bibby missed a clutch free throw opportunity to even the scores and Rebecca Cole made her pay by hitting the dagger from deep on the other end.
Bendigo had a big 30-point win over the Logan Thunder who were no match for the Spirit's inside presence. Gabi Richards had 16 points and 12 boards, while import Kelsey Griffin had 17 points and 5 rebounds. With both players finding easy points inside the paint, Bendigo dominated points in the paint to a tune of 46-14. Logan's captain Kristin Veal was the Thunder's best player, finishing with 16 points, 7 assists and 5 rebounds.
Bendigo had the grip on Logan early, leading 18-4 before the saw their lead fall to 27-21 by the end of the quarter. Sara Bilcavs scored 8 points in the first quarter. Kristin Veal was doing her best to keep her Thunder in the game with 8 second quarter points, but the Spirit saw their lead reach to 10 at the main break. The second half was all Bendigo. The Spirit headed into the final period ahead by 25, before casually extending their lead to 30 by the end of the game.
Townsville entered Perth with the intentions of a big win which they achieved, but were made to work for it by an improved West Coast team. Young star Olivia Thompson scored 19 points and had 8 rebounds while fellow bench player Mia Newley scored 16 points to go with 4 assists. Antonia Edmonson and Mellisa Marsh both scored 12 points for the home side.
The Fire opened the game and was leading 36-10 at the end of the first off the back Oliva Thompson's 9 points in 4 minutes. Head Coach Kennedy Kereama must blasted the Waves at the break as the second quarter saw a new Waves team winning the quarter 26-23. West Coast maintained the pressure in the second half, keeping the margin consistent and even closed the gap to 18 before Mia Newley scored 5 points in 30 seconds to give the Fire a 23 point lead at the break. Townsville persisted in the final term to earn a 34 point win against the West Coast team.
Round 7 Results
Dandenong Rangers 95 (O'Hea 24, Mitchell 16, Kunek 14, Novosel 14) defeated Logan Thunder 82 (Cunningham 15, Graham 14, Langford 12)
Adelaide Lightning 69 (Foley 16, Payne 12, Talbot 10) defeated Townsville Fire 68 (Batkovic 17, Cumming 15, McCully 12)
Sydney Uni Flames 76 (Cox 19, King 16, Ebzery 11, Samuels 11) defeated Dandenong Rangers 67 (Pedersen 13, Kunek 12, Mitchell 11, Novosel 11)
Melbourne Boomers 66 (Poppens 13, Madgen 12, Allen 10) defeated Canberra Capitals 62 (Bibby 22, Bishop 11, Bunton 11)
Logan Thunder 59 (Veal 16, Koehn 11, Cunningham 10) defeated by Bendigo Spirit 89 (Griffen 17, Richards 16, Penaluna 13)
West Coast Waves 61 (Edmondson 12, Marsh 12, Wallbutton 10) defeated by Townsville Fire 95 (Thompson 19, Newley 16, Cocks 13)
Stay tuned for the next preview of the WNBL season!