WNBL 2014/15: Round 5 Preview

Upsets reigned supreme in round four of the WNBL season and, with a number of sides looking to start pushing for a top four spot, round five is sure to provide more fireworks.


Sydney Uni Flames vs. Melbourne Boomers

Friday, 14th November – 7:00pm (local time)

Sydney Uni and Melbourne will kick off round five proceedings, with both sides in form after strong round four wins. The Flames sent the Capitals packing for the second time this season to get back on the winner’s list, while the Boomers won their second straight contest with a very impressive win over the Penny Taylor-led Dandenong.

Leilani Mitchell and Katie-Rae Ebzery continue to shine for the Flames and will prove a handful for Melbourne’s crop of young guards, while at the other end it will be Tess Madgen causing plenty of headaches for the home side as she finds top gear early in the season.

Both sides lack depth at the centre position and rely heavily on positions 1-3 for offense, and there has been no other guard combo in better early season form than Mitchell and Ebzery, with the latter coming off a dominant 26-point performance against the University of Canberra.

The Boomers enjoyed running free against the defensively challenged Rangers last week, exploding for a season high 93 points and seeing a number of players find form as a result, with Rebecca Cole and Olivia Thompson finding the bottom of the net with ease for most of the afternoon.

There is no doubt Madgen is the key to the Boomers’ winning hopes, and if she can replicate her near triple-double performance from last week then the visitors will be in with a big claim, however whether her teammates can put points on the board against a side that isn’t Dandenong remains the big question mark.

Sydney Uni by 5

West Coast Waves vs. University of Canberra Capitals

Saturday, 15th November – 12:00pm (local time)

The Waves and Caps met in Canberra last week and will go toe-to-toe again in round five, this time in Perth on Saturday afternoon.

A week is a very long time in professional basketball, with the Waves splitting a tough weekend at 1-1 and disposing of the defending champions Bendigo in the process, despite coming into the weekend on the back of three dismal performances.

Lindsey Moore was superb as she regained her form against the Spirit, and while she was solid again in Canberra it was the zero in the assists column next to her name that will need to be improved if her side is to topple the Capitals this time around.

The battle for ascendency in the paint between Louella Tomlinson and Abby Bishop was brilliant and should prove to be again, and while Bishop could only manage 6-for-20 shooting last week she was the dominant player on the court with a near double-double-double and will need to be kept under wraps by the home side.

The Capitals jumped out of the blocks last week and held a 10-point lead at quarter time before eventually winning by the same margin, and at home the Waves would be expected to come out a little faster, meaning they should be right in this match until the final buzzer.

University of Canberra by 1

Adelaide Lightning vs. Sydney Uni Flames

Saturday, 15th November – 5:00pm (local time)

Adelaide were dismal last week without captain Laura Hodges, scoring just 33 points for the entire match as they were submitted to a drubbing at the hands of a fired up Bendigo side.

The Lightning shot at just 20% for the match and could only manage four points in the second term as they were embarrassed in front of their home fans to the tune of 43 points, and will be looking to make amends when they host the Flames.

Amy Lewis was Adelaide’s top scorer with just six points in a telling sign of their woeful offensive display, with the Lightning needing to improve drastically before this clash or risk another heavy defeat at the hands of the high-flying Flames.

Sydney Uni will be coming into the match on the back of a clash with Melbourne less than 24 hours earlier, presenting the Lightning with a chance to take advantage and earn back some respect, however with the quality that the Flames possess at the guard positions it will take an almighty effort from the home side to turn their terrible form around enough to grab a win here.

Flames by 3

Townsville Fire vs. Melbourne Boomers

Saturday, 15th November – 7:00pm (local time)

The Fire will host a weary Melbourne side as they look to get back on the winner’s list with a return to their home floor.

Townsville’s first venture outside of Queensland resulted in a loss in round four, with the Fire falling to Dandenong in Melbourne after some late heroics from WNBA star and 2014/15 season debutant Penny Taylor.

Despite the disappointing result, the Fire still remain on top of the ladder and will be looking to make it four from four at home against the Boomers, who will be coming off a match in Sydney the night before.

The long trip from Sydney to Townsville is sure to take its toll on the girls from Melbourne, and this match will present the Boomers with their biggest challenge of the season against the best side, away from home and on the back end of a double-header.

The undersized Boomers will struggle against star duo Suzy Batkovic and Cayla Francis inside, and will need to find plenty of perimeter offense if they are to stay in this match, with the Rangers’ win over the Fire last week potentially a blueprint to success.

The Fire will be fired up (pun intended) after last week’s result and, given they will be playing the night before and then travelling for the best part of five hours, the Boomers will need to produce something very special if they are to leave Townsville with a win.

Townsville by 12

Dandenong Rangers vs. Bendigo Spirit

Sunday, 16th November – 2:00pm (local time)

The Rangers and the Spirit will go head to head in an all-Victorian clash between two sides in need of a win for very different reasons.

Dandenong sit at the foot of the WNBL table with a 2-5 record and, despite their star-filled roster, have been far too inconsistent and disappointing so far in 2014/15.

Look no further than last week, where the Rangers knocked off league-leaders Townsville before getting blown away by Melbourne a day later, marking a 30+ point turn-around from their clash with the Boomers in round one.

The Spirit also split their results in round four, with a shock defeat in Perth against struggling West Coast leading to a 40-point thrashing of Adelaide two days later, and will be looking to keep touch with ladder leaders Townsville and Sydney Uni with a win in this clash.

Gabe Richards will prove a handful for the undersized Rangers inside; while Penny Taylor and Cappie Pondexter will seemingly carry the bulk of their side’s scoring duties at the other end.

The Spirit exploited Dandenong’s lack of defensive ability in their 97-75 win over the Rangers a fortnight ago, and despite the introduction of Taylor to the home side’s line-up since, Bendigo should be able to repeat the dose away from home.

Bendigo by 5