Aokuso astounds as Townsville trumps Lightning

AN impactful offensive performance from center Zitina Aokuso drove the Townsville Fire to a six-point win over the Adelaide Lightning to kick off Round 5 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) on Wednesday night.

Returning home to the Townsville Entertainment Centre, the Fire came into the game on a three-game winning streak, and still looked like one of the biggest contenders in the league, despite a surprising loss in recent weeks. The Lightning had shown glimpses throughout the first four weeks, but could not deliver a strong enough level of play consistently, and would need to bring their best if they were to cause an upset.

It was a hot start from the Lightning, who jumped out to a four-point lead in the first term, and although Townsville returned serve in the second term as expected, it was still game on at the main break. Adelaide led by one-point at the final change, but could was restricted to just 10 points in the fourth as the Fire did enough to record their fourth win in a row and remain in second spot in the standings.

Townsville’s win was largely driven by a standout offensive performance from Aokuso, who was a powerful force inside the paint across all four quarters.

Townsville Fire (67) def. Adelaide Lightning (61)

Zitina Aokuso – 23 points, seven rebounds, one assist, one steal

On a night where offence was tough to come by at times for the Fire, Aokuso was the one to pick up the slack and provide a reliable avenue to scoring.

Townsville seriously struggled from behind the arc, nailing just three triples on 17 attempts. This sort of inaccuracy could potentially sink a team’s hopes in a game, but inside scoring from Aokuso ensured the Fire’s scoring kept ticking over.

The center had a game-high 23 points on 10/15 shooting from the field, with all of her made baskets coming from two-point territory. She completely controlled the paint and rolled to the hoop extremely well, proving too much of a handful for the opposition’s interior defence.

Aokuso accounted for over a third of Townsville’s total score in a vital display on the offensive end, initially keeping the Fire in the match when the Lightning were on top, and then subsequently driving her side to victory in the final quarter.

The only knock on her game was the fact that the talented tall found herself in foul trouble over the course of the match, and this affected her court time. She was still able to check back into the game and impact immediately, but there is every chance her numbers could have been even better.

Regardless, it was a match-winning performance from Aokuso, who picked up the slack from her inaccurate teammates to steer Townsville to win number five.

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