Townsville set Adelaide on Fire in opening win
THE Townsville Fire got their mission to avenge their 2020 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) Grand Final loss off to a good start, defeating the Adelaide Lightning 70-55 in their opening match of the 2021 WNBL season.
It was Townsville who got the opening points on the board when former Lightning star Lauren Nicholson made her three point shot in the opening minutes of the game. Adelaide then had several missed shots before Monique Billings made both her free throws to extend the Fire lead even further.
Adelaide could not score for almost the opening three minutes before captain Stephanie Talbot made both her free throw attempts. The Lightning then continued to close the margin and got within one point of the Fire before Townsville extended out the margin again. The margin stayed fairly tight for much of the remainder of the term. In the end the Fire took a three-point lead heading into the first break.
In the second term it was actually the Lightning who got on the board first through Alanna Smith. She made a lay up, and within the seconds she also made her free throw to level things up. It remained tight for much of the term with neither side getting more than about three points ahead.
Adelaide actually took the lead with just under six minutes to go. The Fire were then able to regain the lead minutes later and go about rebuilding the barrier they had earlier That did not last long as Adelaide got back within two points, but Townsville got the margin back out to seven points before heading into half-time with a five-point buffer.
The third quarter was when Townsville really did its damage on Adelaide. The Fire kept consistently scoring and although Adelaide tried to keep up, they just couldn’t. By the time the teams turned for home, the margin sat at 15 points.
The Lightning got the first five points of the final term but Townsville scored to put a stop to that momentum. Adelaide then got on the scoring train again and got the margin back down to only a sole point. After that though, Townsville put a stop to that and got back to scoring. The Fire had eight of the last nine scoring shots on the way to an 11 point win.
On the scoring front, it was Nicholson who topped the tally for the Fire. She scored 24 points and had five assists. Billings shot 15 points and had 12 rebounds.
On the other side of the equation, Talbot top scored for the Lightning with 19 points and had 11 rebounds. In her first game for the side, American import Kylee Shook scored nine points but had a whopping 14 rebounds.
Both teams have to wait until next weekend for their next chance to take the court. The Fire host the Sydney Uni Flames on Saturday night. Meanwhile, the Lightning will be looking to right the wrongs of this loss against the Capitals on Sunday.