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WNBL Preliminary Final Review - Townsville Forces Upset
With the two teams in this year's Grand Final exactly the same as last year's, it's time to look back at the game that decided who would challenge Bendigo at the summit of women's basketball.
Credit Geoff Tripp for photography.
Townsville defeating Dandenong 74-71 came as a shock to many, but they were convincing throughout the game for them to warrant a spot in the Grand Final. Steph Cumming was the leading scorer for the Fire, playing a terrific game against her former side. Cumming scored a spectacular 15 points on 54% shooting. As usual, Suzy Batkovic was trouble under the rim with 13 points and 16 rebounnds. Meanwhile, Rachael McCully added 13 points of her own. Kayla Standish contributed with 11 points and 6 rebounds from the bench, while Mia Newley scored 10 points and took in 4 rebounds.
Jenna O'Hea's insane game of 27 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists still wasn't enough to change the outcome of the game.
Alice Kunek had a head-scratching game, but still contributed with 15 points and 5 rebounds.
Leilani Mitchell scored 15 points and 4 assists in an effort to keep them in the run for a spot in the Grand Final.
To have two regional teams in the Grand Final again, I'm rapt," - Chris Lucas, Townsville coach.
Both teams fought out a tough, defensive, and gritty first quarter. Townsville managed to find a way to produce a 6-point lead at quarter-time with a particularly impressive stat; 8 Townsville players were already on the score-sheet at that point. Momentum swung the Fire's way with Townsville extending their lead to 11 after an Alex Wilson bucket. Veteran Alison Downie was quick to pull the game back in Dandenong's direction with the veteran's inclusion into the line-up being a huge spark for the Rangers, closing the half-time margin to just 3 points.
I don't think we lacked endeavour, we played as hard as we could. They were just very good" - Mark Wright, Dandenong coach.
Jenna O'Hea brought the crowd into the game in the third-quarter with her sweet offensive ability captivating the audience and helping the Rangers tie the scores at 46 points. Yet, Suzy Batkovic was up to her usual mischief once again, scoring late baskets to have the score at 50-46 entering the final term. Townsville extended their lead to 5, but two three-point plays from Jenna O'Hea and Leilani Mitchell quickly altered the balance of the game, swinging it back Dandenong's way with a 1-point lead. Down by 1 late in the game, Rachael McCully forced an Alice Kunek turnover on a terrific defensive play to regain possession and aptly dealt the final blow with makes from the free-throw line.
Preliminary Final Result
Dandenong Rangers 71 (O'Hea 27, Mitchell 15, Kunek 15) defeated by Townsville Fire 74 (Cumming 15, McCully 13, Batkovic 13)
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