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WNBL Round 16 Review
Dandenong, led by Alice Kunek, defeated the Adelaide Lightning by 6 points in a game the Lightning had to win to stay in finals contention. Kunek shot 10/12 from the field, allowing her to score 27 points, while also adding 4 rebounds. Jenna O'Hea was close to a triple-double with 19 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists, while Natalie Novosel added 14 of her own. Laura Hodges was amazing, with 28 points and 6 rebounds. Jenni Screen had 17 points, also adding 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Angela Marino had 17 points and 5 assists.
Jenni Screen was determined to hold the playoff aspirations alive, scoring 9 points in the games opening 5 minutes. Laura Hodges also added 12 in the quarter, where the Lightning comphrensively dominated the Rangers 34-22 after 10. Alice Kunek and Jenna O'Hea trimmed the lead back to 1 point at half time, with the duo knocking down big shots. Dandenong got the first lead of the night in the second, until Jenni Screen knocked down another two treys. Down by 4 with a quarter to go, O'Hea and Kunek were unguardable in the last term, with the help of Kayla Pederson, the Rangers ran out 90-84 victors.
Bendigo proved to be too big once again, defeating the Logan Thunder by 14 points. Elyse Penaluna and Kelsey Griffin proved dominant on the interior. Penaluna finished with 22 points and 8 rebounds and Griffin captivated the crowd with 14 points and 19 rebounds, with 9 rebounds being on the offensive end. Kelly Wilson also made an impact with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Natalie Taylor was the best for Logan, 12 points and 2 steals were here impact on the score-sheet. Laurie Koehn had 9 points off 3 three-point makes, while also having 6 rebounds.
Logan were in charge in the first term, after a nice Bendigo start. 7 points to end the quarter, thanks to Mikhaela Donnely and Kristin Veal allowed the Thunder to open up a 2-point lead. Laurie Koehn hit 2 of her 3 three's early in the second. Elyse Penaluna continued to dominate in the key, but Logan continued to light it up from range, taking a 4-point lead into the half. Bendigo won the third quarter, 25-10, where Kelsey Griffin, Elyse Penaluna and Sara Blicavs all joined in on the offensive bombardment. Logan couldn't come back in the last quarter and shooting 31.3% certainly did not help them.
Melbourne may have beaten Sydney, but the win came at a cost. Star WNBA import Chelsea Poppens has been ruled out for the season after rupturing her ACL. Rebecca Cole scored 17 points off the bench on the bittersweet day for the Boomers. Bec Allen finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds, while Tess Madgen scored 12 points, had 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Rohanee Cox was terrific scoring 20 points and 7 rebounds. Katie-Rae Ebzery enjoyed a solid day, 17 points and 6 rebounds to her name.
Melbourne made all of their 14 points from inside the paint in the first quarter. Rohanee Cox scored 7, but it was Melbourne ahead by 4 at quarter-time. Rohanee Cox and Bec Cole went basket for basket in the second term. Ebzery sparked an important 8-2 run to end the quarter to only close the margin to 3 at the half. Melbourne came out slow into the third, with Sydney taking advantage, by earning a lead in the ballgame. Amelia Todhunter would break the drought with 5 points, sparking a 5-point lead with a quarter to go. Sydney were leading with 5 minutes to go, with Kathleen Scheer scoring 6 well-needed points. Tess Madgen nailed an eventual game-winning three, with Kathleen Scheer missing a three-point attempt to close the game.
Credit: Geoff Tripp for photography.
Canberra got the better of Melbourne in a rarely-seen overtime encounter. Canberra, who are now out of finals contention were led by MVP candidate Abby Bishop, who only solidified her odds with a 23 point, 14 rebound performance. Alex Bunton had another great game with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Natalie Hurst, Carley Mijovic and Isabelle Strunc all chipped in with 12 points a piece. Now playing extreme small-ball, due to the Chelsea Poppens injury, Bec Cole led the way with 15 points and 5 assists. Bec Allen scored 13 points, and she also had 6 rebounds and 3 steals. Hayley Munro had an efficient outing, with 11 points and 6 boards.
Going basket for basket in the first term, Melbourne broke out late with made baskets to Hayley Munro and Amelia Todhunter, setting up a 4-point lead at quarter-time. Canberra evened the game within a matter of minutes, but it was cancelled out by Shanae Greaves and Hayley Munro once again, who allowed the Boomers to open up an 8-point half-time lead. Isabelle Strunc hit a big three, to draw the scores at 44. Bec Cole would give Melbourne a defend-able 7-point lead with 10 minutes to go. Carley Mijovic was sensational in the last quarter, putting Canberra ahead in the dying stages. That was until Nicole Romeo hit two big three's with limited time remaining to send it to OT. Canberra's free-throw shooting won them the game, with Isabelle Strunc and Natalie Hurst finishing the game from the line.
Bendigo made up for the loss last week at home to Townsville by dismantling the Fire, winning by 21 points. Sara Blicavs was influential, netting 25 points and 7 rebounds. Kristi Harrower was solid with 12 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. Kelsey Griffin recorded yet another double-double, 10 points and 13 rebounds to her name. Suzy Batkovic didn't get a rest, and it showed by scoring 27 points and recording 17 rebounds. Only one other Fire player reached a 6-point threshold. Rachael McCully scored 13 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists.
Bendigo netted a 13-point quarter-time lead, with Sara Blicavs nailing two three's in the opening term. Townsville dominated the second stanza however, limiting the dynamic Spirit to only 7 points, while racking up 17 of their own, with the lead at 3 at the half. Suzy Batkovic had 15 points in the first half. Bendigo went on an unprecedented 16-3 run, compounding with a comfortable 16-point lead at three-quarter time. Without Gabe Richards, the Spirit kept Batkovic out of the main action in the last term, pulling out 21-point victors.
Sydney Uni snuck out of Adelaide with a 3-point win to their names. Katie-Rae Ebzery led the Flames with 25 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Lauren King and LeSondra Barrett both had 11 points and 5 rebounds a piece. Laura Hodges only strengthened her claim for the player of the week award, by scoring 20 points and grabbing 9 rebounds. Chay Shegog notched 14 points and 4 rebounds and Jenni Screen had 9 rebounds and 8 points from the bench.
Sydney Uni took the honors at quarter-time, taking a 4-point lead into the second quarter, with Rohanee Cox scoring 8 points in the term. Katie-Rae Ebzery had a terrific second-quarter, where she led her Flames to another 20-point quarter, and a 10-point lead at the half. The Flames saw the lead reach 12, but Adelaide came back with a big 14-0 run, which saw them take the lead, before Lauren King tied the scores at 51 with 10 minutes to go. Nobody managed to extend the lead past 4, and with Ebzery hitting a pair of clutch threes, while Angela Marino missed a potential game-tying shot, the game was done. Sydney pulled out winners by 3.
Round 16 Results
Dandenong Rangers 90 (Kunek 27, O'Hea 19, Novosel 14) defeated Adelaide Lightning 84 (Hodges 28, Marino 17, Screen 17)
Logan Thunder 57 (Taylor 12, Koehn 9, Veal 8) defeated by Bendigo Spirit 71 (Penaluna 22, Griffin 14, Blicavs 13)
Melbourne Boomers 65 (Cole 17, Allen 14, Madgen 12) defeated Sydney Uni Flames 62 (Cox 20, Ebzery 17, Scheer 9)
Canberra Capitals 78 (Bishop 23, Bunton 14, Hurst 12, Mijovic 12, Strunc 12) defeated Melbourne Boomers 75 (Cole 15, Madgen 15, Allen 13, Munro 11)
Townsville Fire 57 (Batkovic 27, McCully 13) defeated by Bendigo Spirit 78 (Blicavs 25, Aubry 12, Harrower 12, Wilson 12)
Adelaide Lightning 68 (Hodges 20, Shegog 14) defeated by Sydney Uni Flames 71 (Ebzery 25, Barrett 11, King 11)