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WNBL Round 8 Review
Bendigo now find themselves 1 game clear of the second placed team (Melbourne) after a 8-point victory over a quick finishing Adelaide Lightning team. Kelsey Griffin stared for the Spirit, en route to WNBL player of the week honors. Finishing with a game-high 29 points and 11 rebounds, Griffin was on fire for the league's best side. Supported by Sara Blicavs (14 points) and Kelly Wilson (11 points), the Spirit now have 9 wins from 10 games. Laura Hodges once again reasserted her stance in a possible All-Star five spot, with another big performance for the Lightning, but her 23 points and 8 rebounds weren't enough to get things done. Jess Foley played another admirable game, with 15 points and 2 assists.
The Spirit, asserted their dominance from the beginning, with Kelsey Griffin pouring in baskets to finish with 13 at the break, while her side was up 26-13. With Adelaide shooting under 25% in the quarter. Bendigo found themselves extending the lead to be above by 15 at the main break. The Lightning were a new team in the second half, starting quick due to Laura Hodges and Jess Foley buckets, but Gabi Richards and Griffin would eventually push the lead back out to 15 at the 3rd quarter break. Adelaide came back massively after going behind by 19 to start the quarter, before seeing the lead cut to 5 with 31 seconds remaining. Bendigo would drain free-throws in the dying stages to earn a 8 point win.
Townsville shut down Canberra with a valiant defensive effort which saw the Capitals go without scoring for a terrific 6 minutes in the last quarter. Suzy Batkovic continues to dominate with 25 points and 7 rebounds, with Steph Cumming (18 points, 6 boards, 86% FG) and Micaela Cocks (16 points) were also playing well for the Fire. Young star Alex Bunton finished with a superb double-double for Canberra, notching 18 points and 10 rebounds together, while Nat Hurst scored 23 points for the visiting side.
Canberra took a five point lead into the first break, off 10 Natalie Hurst points. Suzy Batkovic attempted to close the opposition lead and did so to 2, but Alex Bunton and Abby Bishop would combine for 10 points, pushing the Capitals towards a 6 point lead at the half. The third quarter saw Canberra duo Natalie Hurst and Abby Bishop share baskets with Townsville guards Steph Cumming and Micaela Cocks. Suzy Batkovic ended the 3rd strongly, giving the Fire the lead off some quick baskets. Canberra were held scoreless for 6 minutes in the final term, which contributed to Townsville finding themselves with a 12 point lead, before finishing the game above by 8.
Canberra gave Carrie Graf an 11-point victory in her WNBL-record 254th win as a coach. Abby Bishop scored 23 points and had 11 rebounds, notching another double-double, while frontcourt teammate Alex Bunton pulled down a phenomenal 16 rebounds. Jess Bibby scored 20, while Natalie Hurst scored 18. Tegan Cunningham was the biggest threat for the Thunder, with 18 points and 6 rebounds, while import Laurie Koehn had 15 points and young star Emma Langford added 14 points to go along with 7 rebounds.
The scores remained close to start the game, with Logan finding themselves with as large as a 6-point lead in the quarter, before a Jess Bibby buzzer-beater brought the scores back to 1 at the quarter. Abby Bishop was the second quarter. Finishing with 10 points for the period, the Capitals took a 41-37 lead into the break. Emma Langford found herself in foul trouble, picking up 4 during the third quarter, taking out Logan's biggest inside presence, with Canberra taking advantage in pushing their lead to 7. Canberra extended their margin to 12, before Emma Langford and Kristin Veal sparked a 10-2 run which saw Logan re-enter the game. Canberra took their challenge to heart, winning by 11 off the back of terrific offensive efforts from Abby Bishop and Nat Hurst.
Rohanee Cox of the Sydney Uni Flames. Credit Geoff Tripp for photography.
Sydney gave up a big 13 point lead by the second quarter, before holding the Boomers to only 28 points for the second half with a huge defensive performance, winning by 12. Katie-Rae Ebzery was the star for Sydney, finishing with 22 points and 5 rebounds, shooting at 55%. Rohanee Cox (15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) and Guard Alicia Poto (16 points, 5 assists) also contributed to the Sydney win. San Antonio Silver Stars import Chelsea Poppens was influential for Melbourne, with a massive 23 point, 16 rebound performance, but also coughed up the ball 8 times. Nicole Romeo had her best scoring game, with 18, while Opal Tess Madgen finished with 10 points and 3 blocks.
Poppens started her inside play early for the Boomers, with easy and early points. Taking a 7 point lead into the break, Melbourne were back in their defensive flow, with the Boomers starving the Flames of easy shot opportunities. Chelsea Poppens collected 11 rebounds for the half, signalling the defensive impression that coach Guy Molloy expects out of his young side. Sydney came out with a vengeance in the second half, signalling to the home supporters that there effort wasn't enough. Holding Melbourne to just four points in the first five minutes proved this, while Ebzery and Rohanee Cox scored 13 points between them, en route to a strong 5 point lead going into the last, outscoring an insipid Melbourne side 28-11. Nicole Romeo almost brought the Boomers back into the game, bringing the margin back down to 8, after a strong block on Ebzery then nailing a 3, but that effort proved not to be enough, as the Flames held strong for a 12 point win.
Bendigo as expected beat up on a depleted West Coast team, by a tune of 27 points. Dominating on the boards and winning the competition 40-22 helped the Spirit to a league high 9th win, with another minor premiership in sight. Elyse Penaluna stood out for Bendigo, with 18 points and 5 rebounds, while Gabe Richards (16 points, 14 rebounds) and Heather Oliver (15 points) supported her in keeping the scoreboard ticking over. Antonia Edmonson once again led the scoring for West Coast with 10, while league stalwart Mellisa Marsh finished with 8 and Natalie Burton had 9 points and 5 rebounds in her second game back from injury.
Surprisingly, West Coast stood tall to start the game, with teams going basket for basketball in the first, before the Spirit off the back of Elyse Penaluna extended themselves to an 8 point lead at the break. West Coast once again showed spirit to bring Bendigo's lead back to 5, but the imposing duo of Gabe Richards and Penaluna began to take control, imposing themselves in the second, with Bendigo up by 12 at the main break. Bendigo started the third quarter strong, on a 12-2 run, with the Spirit up by 20 at the last break. Natalie Burton helped make sure the score wouldn't become any bigger than what it was, with baskets to keep the Spirit lead under 30.
Round 7 Results
Adelaide Lightning 76 (Hodges 23, Foley 15) defeated by Bendigo Spirit 84 (Griffin 29, Blicavs 14, Wilson 11)
Townsville Fire 80 (Batkovic 25, Cumming 18, Cocks 16) defeated Canberra Capitals 74 (Hurst 23, Bunton 18, Bishop 14)
Logan Thunder 68 (Cunningham 18, Koehn 15, Langford 14) defeated by Canberra Capitals 79 (Bishop 23, Bibby 20, Hurst 18)
Sydney Uni Flames 83 (Ebzery 22, Poto 16, Cox 15) defeated Melbourne Boomers 71 (Poppens 23, Romeo 18, Madgen 10)
West Coast Waves 54 (Edmondson 10) defeated by Bendigo Spirit 81 (Penaluna 18, Richards 16, Oliver 15)