WNBL Round 2 review: Victorian sides, reigning premiers remain undefeated

SOUTHSIDE Flyers have taken to the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) competition like a duck to water, winning their first three games – including a nail-biter over title contenders Perth Lynx, to head up the table at the end of Round 2. Melbourne Boomers and University of Canberra (UC) Capitals also remain undefeated, while Adelaide Lightning bounced back with a win to sit second with two victories from three games.

Southside Flyers (97) defeated Perth Lynx (93)

The WNBL’s newest named side maintained its unbeaten start to the season with an overtime thriller at home against top-of-the-table Perth Lynx. The Southside Flyers raced away to a six-point lead at the main break, before the Lynx cut the deficit to four with a quarter to play. A desperate high-scoring final term saw the visitors draw level at the final buzzer, with overtime needed to settle the result. Southside scored 11-7 in overtime to get home by four points, 97-93. Mercedes Russell turned it on with a clear standout performance for the winners, posting up 18 points, 15 rebounds, two assists and one block in a big performance, while Jenna O’Hea also impressed with 19 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and a mind-boggling six steals. Sara Blicavs (11 points, nine rebounds) and Leilani Mitchell (11 points, 10 assists and three rebounds) were also strong in the win, as Rebecca Cole picked up three steals as well as 16 points. Despite the loss, the standout player on the court by far was Alison Schwagmeyer who looked unstoppable with 34 points at 58.3 per cent from the field, as well as 12 rebounds and three assists. Lauren Mansfield was the playmaker in the forward half, picking up nine assists – more than half her team’s total – to go with eight points and three rebounds, while Imani McGee-Stafford (17 points, nine rebounds and four blocks) was also impressive.

DC Medal: 3 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL), 2 – Mercedes Russell (SF), 1 – Jenna O’Hea (SF)

Townsville Fire (68) defeated by Adelaide Lightning (86)

A fast-starting Adelaide Lightning flew into second spot on the WNBL ladder with a crushing 18-point win on the road against Townsville Fire. The Lightning struck early with 23 points to 12 in the first term, and by half-time the margin was out to 18. With the final break deficit sitting at 20, the Fire burnt into the lead marginally, winning the final term 20-18, but it was a case of too little, too late. Adelaide shared the points around with six players reaching double figures and contributing all the scores on the board, lead by Brianna Turner (19 points, nine rebounds, two steals and three blocks). Stephanie Talbot (18 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks) contributed across all stat categories, as Lauren Nicholson (15 points, four rebounds), Natalie Hurst (13 points, four rebounds and three assists) and Nicole Seekamp (11 points, four rebounds, seven assists and two steals) were also impressive on the night. For the Fire, Abby Bishop (24 points, eight rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (13 points, 10 rebounds) were the only major points scorers with more than half the team’s score and rebounds. Tess Madgen also had a solid night in a losing side with six points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals.

DC Medal: 3 – Brianna Turner (AL), 2 – Stephanie Talbot (AL), 1 – Nicole Seekamp (AL)

Sydney Uni Flames (72) defeated by Southside Flyers (85)

The two contrasting starts to the season by these two teams continued, with Southside Flyers’ third consecutive win also marking Sydney Uni Flames’ third consecutive loss. The home side started with promise, level with the equal ladder leaders after one term. Southside took control in the second term, adding 26 points to the Flames’ 20, before Sydney Uni hit back to cut the deficit to just three with a quarter to spare. It was all the Flyers in the final term however, as Southside sank 23 points to 13, to run away with a 13-point win, 85-72. O’Hea led the way for the Flyers, posting 22 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block, while Russell was once again influential with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Mitchell was dominant across all areas to be a standout at both ends, finishing with 14 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and three steals, while Cole had 12 points, three rebounds, four assists and three steals. For the losing side, Alice Kunek was the top player, dropping 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Jessica Kuster picked up a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Tahlia Tupaea (15 points, three rebounds and four assists) and Colleen Planeta (14 points, five rebounds and two blocks) were others who stood tall despite the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), 2 – Leilani Mitchell (SF), 1 – Jessica Kuster (SU)

Melbourne Boomers (74) defeated Bendigo Spirit (70)

The Boomers maintained their unbeaten streak to start the season with a narrow four-point win over Bendigo Spirit at the State Basketball Centre. Neither side could be split in the first two quarters, level at both breaks before the Boomers blasted away with a 23-17 third term. Bendigo hit back in the final term, but despite showing spirit they could only cut the deficit by two, going down 70-74. Cayla George was the dominant player on the court, putting in a match-winning performance with 24 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Boomers. Sophie Cunningham (18 points, five rebounds and four assists) and Lindsay Allen (12 points, seven rebounds and six assists) were the other two Boomers to have a real influence on the game. For Bendigo, they also had a trio of standouts, with Kelly Wilson (19 points, three rebounds, seven assists and two steals) leading the way. Tessa Lavey (13 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals) and Marte Grays (12 points, seven rebounds) were the other players who could hold their head high despite the defeat.

DC Medal: 3 – Cayla George (MB), 2 – Kelly Wilson (BS), 1 – Sophie Cunningham (MB)

UC Capitals (67) defeated Townsville Fire (65)

In a similar story to the previous week, reigning premiers UC Capitals had to dig deep to overcome the winless Townsville Fire, falling as much as four points behind at the final break before powering home with a 17-11 final term to take home the points. The 67-65 victory showed the Capitals are never out of the contest, having to pull out all the stops to get over the top of their opponents in Canberra. It was no surprise to see Kelsey Griffin on top of things once again, racking up another double-double courtesy of 16 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Kia Nurse also sank 16 points, two rebounds and three assists. Keely Froling (13 points, three rebounds and two assists) was solid on the scoring front, while Olivia Epoupa picked pockets like the Artful Dodger, racking up a massive seven steals to go with eight rebounds, four assists and 13 points. For the Fire, Bridget Carleton had the most points in the loss, shooting 14 points, seven rebounds and two assists, while Bishop was strong with a double-double thanks to 12 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and four steals. Micaela Cocks (13 points, five rebounds) and Madgen (10 points, five rebounds) also put up solid numbers.

DC Medal: 3 – Kelsey Griffin (UC), 2 – Olivia Epoupa (UC), 1 – Abby Bishop (TF)

Bendigo Spirit (91) defeated Perth Lynx (79)

Bendigo bounced back from the heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Boomers the day before to outstay Perth Lynx in an impressive performance. The Spirit trailed by 10 points at quarter time, but took control after that, cutting the deficit to six at half-time and one by the final break. With the game in the balance, the Spirit stepped it up a notch, sinking 26 points to 13 to run away with the contest, 91-79 in a 12-point victory. Carley Ernst put up a massive 29 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win, while Grays (15 points, five rebounds and two assists) and Lavey (12 points, five rebounds and five assists) were impressive, as was Abbey Wehrung (14 points, two rebounds). For the Lynx, three players recorded 15 points apiece, as Nadeen Payne (15 points, two rebounds), Marena Whittle (15 points, three rebounds and two assists) and McGee-Stafford (15 points, nine rebounds and three assists) were the top scorers. Schwagmeyer posted more impressive numbers with 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists in the loss.

DC Medal: 3 – Carley Ernst (BS), 2 – Imani McGee-Stafford (PL), 1 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL)

DC Medal Leaderboard:

7 – Alison Schwagmeyer (PL)
6 – Jenna O’Hea (SF), Kelsey Griffin (UC)
5 – Cayla George (MB), Leilani Mitchell (SS)
4 – Colleen Planeta (AD), Imani McGee-Stafford (PL)
3 – Lindsay Allen (MB), Carley Ernst (BS), Brianna Turner (AL)
2 – Crystal Langhorne (AD), Kia Nurse (UC), Mercedes Russell (SF), Olivia Epoupa (UC), Kelly Wilson (BS), Stephanie Talbot (AL)
1 – Chelsea Brook (AD), Madeleine Garrick (MB), Bridget Carleton (TF), Lauren Nicholson (AL), Abby Bishop (TF), Sophie Cunningham (MB), Jessica Kuster (SU), Nicole Seekamp (AL)

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