Shorthanded Boomers open season with win

IT might have been a worrying prospect at times, but the Melbourne Boomers got the job done to kick off Round 1 of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season with a win over the Adelaide Lightning.

In the season opener, the Boomers took in just nine players, missing some key personnel with the likes of Kristy Wallace (knee) and Monique Conti (AFLW) not taking part. However, Melbourne had constructed a seriously star-studded roster, so there were still a number of potential match-winners on the team coming in.

On the other hand, Adelaide’s roster had shown plenty of potential last season, but whether the team could take the next step or not still remained to be seen.

For much of Wednesday’s game, it looked like the Lightning had done so, particularly in the first quarter, where the home side started in tremendous form at Adelaide 36ers Arena. The hosts stormed out to a 20-6 lead, and Melbourne’s big names were suffering a bout of inaccuracy.

The Lightning’s success was driven by imports Joceyln Willoughby and Brianna Turner, who were both exceptional, while Lauren Mansfield was also leading Adelaide from the front. The Lightning led by 11 points at the first break, and nine points at half time, holding all the momentum against an underperforming Melbourne side.

However, a 25-13 third quarter flipped the script, giving the Boomers all of the momentum as the big guns finally got going coming out of halftime. It must have been some speech at the main break from Chris Lucas, because the Boomers remarkably took a three-point lead into the final term.

The Lightning remained in the hunt right up until the final four minutes of the game, but the Boomers put the foot down the seal the win and start the season with a eight-point triumph.

The Boomers’ biggest success was on the offensive glass, dominating this facet of the game 21-10, which in turn generated 17-7 second chance points.

Penina Davidson was the spark for Melbourne in the third quarter, producing seven points in a row en route for 12 for the match to go with 10 rebounds in a double-double off the bench. Import Jordin Canada was in charge of controlling the offence, and looked more comfortable as the game went on with six points and eight dimes, while Tera Reid had 10 points and 10 rebounds of her own.

Willoughby had 14 points (a team-high figure) off the bench, while Turner was exceptional with 15 rebounds and eight assists.

The WNBL season continues tomorrow night with a clash between the Perth Lynx and the Sydney Flames.

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