WNBL: Bishop sparks Lightning, O’Hea and Cambage damaging

Credit: Michelle Couling Photography

Round 2 of the 2017/18 WNBL season was kicked off with one incredible individual performance from Adelaide’s Abby Bishop, and ended with 5 teams clocking up two wins to open the season, with another two sides still looking to make the winners list.

Bishop led the Lightning to a 6 point win over Perth at Adelaide’s home, earning an 87-81 result. Bishop dominated from the start, and despite Perth’s best efforts to target her, she couldn’t be stopped. The forward finished with a huge 35 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 blocks. She was also fouled on 8 times by Perth players, but her best was just far too good.

Bishop’s game was supported through a solid effort from her point guard Nicole Seekamp, who continues to rack up the numbers with 13 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals. Lauren Nicholson was also a solid contributor in adding 14 points, 12 rebounds and 2 assists.

Courtney Williams continued her fine form for Perth finishing up on 25 points, while Kayla Standish tried her best with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.

The Melbourne Boomers took Bendigo all the way out to Geelong on Friday night, and came home with a solid 27 point win after bursting open the game in the first quarter. The Spirit were beaten on the inside, as Gabe Richards didn’t make it to the floor and the result was 45 rebounds to Melbourne and just 28 to Bendigo. Liz Cambage was the difference, and the best by far of this match, amassing 25 points with 14 rebounds and 4 blocks.

Both Rebecca Cole and Maddie Garrick were great from the outside for Melbourne with 10 points each. It was a tough match for Bendigo who were also without their fierce leader Kelsey Griffin, but a promising effort from Nadeen Payne (16 points), Ashley Karaitiana (11 points) and Betnijah Laney (8 points and 7 rebounds) gave them some fight until the end.

The Canberra Capitals headed to Townsville for a tough one against this dominant team on their home court. It’s never easy facing the Fire at their home – especially when it’s the 150th game for one of their favourites. Suitably Townsville celebrated Mia Murray’s milestone with an 11-point win over Canberra.

It was an impressive effort from both teams, however Townsville came out in the second half with more momentum, which is something they feed off well especially on their home court. Suzy Batkovic did what she does best and led the Fire to this victory with 20 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. The Fire veteran was in fine form on Friday night. After a monster opening round, Cayla George continued to impress, this time with 14 points and 9 rebounds to form a great tandem with Batkovic.

Veteran Nat Hurst contributed well to Canberra’s effort, with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, while Lauren Scherf had a big game with 13 points and 8 rebounds.

Bendigo were long due for a win, and it was Perth who were the unlucky side to face them on their home court where the Spirit just refused to lose. A dynamic Kelsey Griffin was back and duly sparked a Bendigo onslaught, which saw them leave the court with a 106-71 point win over the Lynx.

The game was close until the main break, with just 2 points the difference. However Bendigo came out of the second half looking like a new team and dominated the third quarter 43-17, putting the result way beyond the Lynx. Bendigo forced Perth into 22 turnovers, who in the second half, struggled to hold onto the ball.

Courtney Williams tried her best and finished on 19 points, 5 rebound sand 5 assists, and Sami Whitcomb also did what she could with 14 points and 5 assists. However it was all Bendigo, with brilliant performances from Betnijah Laney (27 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists and 4 steals) against her old side, Nadeen Payne (24 points), Rachel Banham (19 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals) and Kelsey Griffin (17 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists) who inspired their side to win. The Spirit shot the ball from the field at a solid 57% which made it much easier compared to Perth’s 39% from the field.

The Rangers looked to cause an upset in Sydney against the Flames on Saturday night, who unveiled their 2017 championship banner. The visitors looked good early, managing to open up a 10 point half time lead. However Sydney were able to outlast them in the long run, finding a way to win like they did all last season. A 22-13 third quarter and 17-11 fourth in Sydney’s favour meant they finished with a 5 point victory.

Asia Taylor was one of Sydney’s best, dominating with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while captain Belinda Snell continued her good form with 14 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Katie-Rae Ebzery was also important with 14 points, 5 assists and 2 steals without a rest, and Alex Wilson delivered 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.

Kayla Pederson was huge for Dandenong, compiling 19 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists, as Steph Blicavs (15 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists) and Sara Blicavs (14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists) both continued their good form but without the result they were aiming for.

Canberra played host to the Melbourne Boomers to close out Round 2, and it was a game the Capitals would rather forget. Jenna O’Hea led the Boomers to a massive 92-63 point victory on the road with an exceptional individual performance. O’Hea had a hand in everything, finishing with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals as the Capitals couldn’t find a response.

The Boomers shot at a brilliant 61% from the field compared to Canberra’s 36%, and it was Liz Cambage dominance in the paint that opened the game right up for Melbourne. The centre piled on 27 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks, while she received great support from Rebecca Cole who gathered 11 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals.

For the Capitals, Ezi Magbegor gave them some sparks in the second half and finished on a respectful 11 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Nat Hurst also tried hard with 10 points to her name.

The Townsville Fire ended the round as the only unbeaten team with a 2-0 record, while hot on their heels are the red-hot Boomers, Lightning, Flames and Capitals. Last season’s grand finalist Dandenong are still searching for their first win (0-2), while 2017 semi finalists Perth are 0-3 and at the bottom of the table.

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