WNBL 2014/15: Week 1 Finals Review

Two games went down this week which ends up bringing us half way through this seasons WNBL finals campaign already (it goes quick doesn't it!).

Two cracking games took place, with both of those games shown live on ABC 2 many thanks to all of you wonderful fans out there.

Dandenong felt the pressure once star Penny Taylor went down, while a Cayla Francis masterpiece knocked down a gallant Bendigo Spirit.

Let's not dwell on it for too long, as next week we have yet another gem of a preliminary final so let's quickly recap what took place on the weekend.

Penny shuts down, Flames storm past Rangers

After a bad ankle injury left Penny Taylor out of the game for the majority of the second half, the door was left ajar for Rohanee Cox and the Sydney Uni Flames to pounce all over the hapless Rangers.

An incredible come from behind 89-80 victory continues their dream at a WNBL grand final berth, as a 53-31 second half put the nail in the coffin for Dandenong after leading by as many 18 points midway through the third term.

A 32-18 fourth quarter, off the back of Cox's 24 points and five rebounds for the game had the Dandenong stadium in despair as their team failed to capitilise on such a strong start to the game, failing to play it out.

Photo Credit: Geoff Tripp Photography

Despite Taylor's absence (4 points, 7 rebounds, 0-1FG), Cappie Pondexter flexed her post-season experiences en route to 27 points. However, it was the rest of the team who was disappointing, not being able to find the extra gear when needed.

Aimie Clydesdale was the only other Ranger in double figures with 14 points, as Alice Kunek (8 points), Annalise Pickrel (9 points) and Tegan Cunningham (4 points) struggled to get going.

Kath MacLeod returned from injury just in time, however her nine points off the bench didn't provide the spark they needed as the Flames continued to torture them in the second half.

Katie-Rae Ebzery chimed in with 22 points and five rebounds, while forward Paris Johnson hustled for everything she could get on her way to 14 points and eight rebounds, including four offensive boards.

The victory now keeps the Flames in Victoria as they must now face Bendigo for a spot in the big dance.

Dandenong 80 (Pondexter 27, Clydesdale 14, MacLeod 9)

Sydney Uni 89 (Cox 24, Ebzery 22, Johnson 14)

Francis puts Bendigo to the sword

A Cayla Francis inspired performance from the Townsville Fire have earned themselves a home Grand Final for season 2015.

Despite being down at the half, the Fire came out switched on to allow just seven points in the third quarter which heavily swung the momentum in the home side's favour.

Photo Credit: Michelle Couling Photography

Cayla Francis seemed to do all the damage throughout that period, as she finished with 20 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.

Fire captain Rachael McCully spoke to media after the game saying that during the half time interval, the team really had to focus on limiting the Spirit's firepower.

“We chatted about that at half-time and we knew we had to lock down defensively, but we have to do that for four quarters coming into this last game of the season.”

Suzy Batkovic (12 points, 12 rebounds) chimed in with yet another double double as she is on her way to another WNBL Grand Final.

For the Spirit, Kelsey Griffin seemed to be everywhere throughout the first half, as she clocked 19 points in the opening 20 minutes. From there she only managed two points to finish with 21, as she then relied on Sara Blicavs (10 points) and Belinda Snell (11 points) to pick up the slack.

Coach Bernie Harrower couldn't get anything from his bench on Sunday, as the six players he sent onto the court off the pine managed just nine points. Heather Oliver was the main culprit of the bunch, going 0-8FG from the floor.

Bendigo now head home to host the Sydney Uni Flames in a crunch time preliminary final.

Townsville 82 (Francis 20, Cumming 15, Newley 14)

Bendigo 63 (Griffin 21, Snell 11, Blicavs 10)

For more information regarding the WNBL, please visit their website.