Hawkins hurts Lightning with dominant showing

AN OUTSTANDING individual performance from Tianna Hawkins lead the Townsville Fire to a tense five-point win over the Adelaide Lightning at Townsville Entertainment Centre on Friday night.

Hawkins was a machine in the paint, scoring a game-high total and pulling down an equal game-high number of rebounds. The Fire import has had a strong start to the season, backing up Round 1’s solid showing with a round-best performance the following week. She has been able to get her inside game rolling with ease, bringing a wealth of WNBA experience to the fore to outperform opposition bigs in her opening two weeks with Townsville.

The Fire broke away in the second term, outscoring the opposition 24-14 to take a double-digit lead into the main break. However, Adelaide got going in the last quarter and looked determined to produce an unlikely comeback. It did not come to fruition, as time defeated the Lightning, as the home side held on for a terrific win, their second of the season to start the fixture in perfect fashion.

Townsville Fire (84) def. Adelaide Lightning (79)

Tianna Hawkins – 33 points (33/20 FG), 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block

Hawkins kicked off the game with a quiet start considering her final stats, not producing a basket until the five-minute mark of the opening period, which was a jump-shot. Her rebounding was consistent, but the team looked to move the ball through other players such as Mikaela Ruef in the first period. The import’s impact when going downhill has clearly converted well from her time in the WNBA, and resulted in free throws to close out the quarter.

The second term saw the Washington native start in style, with a cutting lay-up tying the match up in the first minute of the period. She began to use a variety of scoring methods, whether it was a hookshot or a lay-up from under the hoop. The Fire began to feed Hawkins more, as she began to put her stamp on the game. Standing at 191cm, Hawkins used her size to get ideal position under the hoop both with and without the ball. With a strong mix of strength and precision, she would either push through her opponent, or avoid the contact and finish around the defender. However, physicality was never intimidating for her, converting and-one lay-ups on a number of occasions. She scored 15 points in the second quarter alone, as her side lead by 10 points at half-time.

Hawkins copped some tighter defensive attention in the third quarter, which was to be expected after her explosive output on the eve of the main break. She finally conjured another basket six minutes into the term, pulling off a deft floater over Adelaide’s interior defence to put Townsville back up by 10. The forward scored again in the final minute of the period, using her footwork to drain another hookshot, and keep the Fire’s lead as it was at the main break.

The fourth quarter saw Hawkins drain another jump shot, showcasing her smooth shooting motion as one of her biggest strengths. She has a strong ability to create her own shot out of pick and rolls, and it was on display a couple of possessions later when she used a screen to cut to the hoop and finish inside. Hawkins never seemed daunted by the Adelaide talls, attacking and finishing with two more lay-ups, both of which proved crucial in holding the Lightning at bay. She finished the game with a pair of clutch free throws, sealing the result and a dominant individual performance.

Hawkins has been one of the main catalysts for Townsville’s hot start to the season, and was far and away the best performer on Friday night. Expect her teammates to feed her the ball much more in the coming weeks after displaying her knack for producing a bucket inside.

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