2021/22 WNBL Round 10 preview: Top 3 clash to round out weekend

ROUND 10 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) kicks off tomorrow in a six-game fixture that splits over two weekend. The first four games take place this weekend, with an additional two happening on Saturday, February 12. In this preview, we will dive into the four games happening over the next two days.

  • Team
  • Adelaide Lightning
  • Bendigo Spirit

Saturday, February 5 @ 4:30pm
The Lights

Yet to face off in the 2021/22 season, the second placed Adelaide Lightning will look to bounce back from its shock home loss to UC Capitals last weekend, and get back on a roll. The Lightning had pieced together five wins from the first six games of the season before that run came to an end on Sunday, whilst the Bendigo Spirit have not been able to get over the line in the past six games. Adelaide has won the past four games against Bendigo, three of which came in home fixtures.

Alanna Smith (average 15.0 points, 8.1 rebounds) will have a huge job for the Lightning, teaming up with Stephanie Talbot (14.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 6.1 assists) to try and quell the almighty force that is Anneli Maley (18.3 points, 14.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists). Though Maley has been on song, few others have enjoyed the same consistency, with Madeleine Garrick (11.8 points) the next highest points scorer. Adelaide will head into this match as strong favourites.

  • Team
  • UC Capitals
  • Southside Flyers

Saturday, February 5 @ 7:30pm
National Convention Centre

Another fixture yet to take place in the 2021/22 season, both these teams are yet to show the complete dominance they have in past seasons. Reigning champions Southside Flyers are stuck at 3-5 from their eight games, finally snapping a three-game loss streak – which included back-to-back losses to Perth Lynx – to knock off Sydney Uni Flames on Sunday. In fairness to the Flyers, they only lost the three games by a combined 14 points. By comparison, the UC Capitals have started to roll, winning the past three games against Bendigo, Sydney Uni and Adelaide to go from an even 3-3 keel to sit fourth with a 6-3 record and peering in on the top three.

Abby Bishop (13.4 points, 9.8 rebounds) and Sara Blicavs (16.0 points, 6.4 rebounds) have been key players off the boards, and they will look to tackle UC Capitals’ pair Mikaela Ruef and Kelsey Griffin who combine for 16.5 rebounds per match. Brittney Sykes (15.8 points, 5.1 assists) is a key playmaker for the Capitals in the front court, with Maddison Rocci averaging four assists per game and will be keen to put in a good performance against her former side. UC Capitals go in as favourites given their recent streak, but the Flyers have come pretty close to stringing together some wins of their own.

  • Team
  • Sydney Flames
  • Townsville Fire

Sunday, February 6 @ 3:30pm
Qudos Bank Arena

These two sides are looking to find something from this match, with both Sydney Uni Flames and Townsville Fire dropping their past two games. The Fire are in a better spot though, having had a 4-2 record prior to those results, whilst the Flames lost the opening five games of the season before finally securing their first win. They have struggled a little bit in the 2021/22 season, but will be hoping to turn it around here, as Shyla Heal meets her former side.

The last time these two faced off was back in December when the Fire won comfortably, 75-56. Now the Flames are at home at Qudos Bank Arena, they will be looking to turn the tables on their opponents. Heal is enjoying a classy season of 16.1 points and 4.0 assists per game, teaming up well with Lauren Mansfield (13.0 points, 4.4 assists). The depth of the Fire is better though, with towering duo Monique Billings (17.5 points, 9.2 rebounds) and Zitina Aokuso (10.6 points. 8.0 rebounds), bordering on a double-double season average. Sug Sutton has also enjoyed a nice debut season at WNBL level, whilst Kalani Purcell (7.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists) has been impressive across the board.

  • Team
  • Melbourne Boomers
  • Perth Lynx

Sunday, February 6 @ 6:00pm
Gippsland Regional Indoor Sports Stadium

Snatching top spot on the WNBL ladder off the back of four consecutive wins, Perth Lynx are the most in-form side in the competition. They head in with a 6-2 record this season thus far, having only entered the league at the start of last month due to border restrictions. Melbourne Boomers have not quite found the perfect rhythm, but their star quality has lead them to a 7-3 record, winning three of their past four games and sitting third overall, albeit having played more matches than any other side in the competition. The two teams only played a couple of weeks ago, with the Boomers defeating Perth in a three-point thriller, the Lynx’s most recent loss.

Marina Mabrey is in Most Valuable Player (MVP) contention, averaging a league-high 22.1 points per game, and has also picked up 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per match. Her partner-in-crime Lauren Scherf has averaged a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds this season, and will have a huge job against Cayla George (11.1 rebounds per game). Tiffany Mitchell (16.2 points) has been a terrific inclusion for the Boomers this season, working well with Eziyoda Magbegor (15.3 points, 7.1 rebounds), whilst Darcee Garbin (14.6 points) has been a source of points for the Lynx as well.

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