This weekend saw the return of the WNBL for season 2019/20. Here’s all the action from Round 1.
ADELAIDE LIGHTNING V SYDNEY UNI FLAMES (89 – 79)
The season opener saw the Lightning down the Flames by 10 points in a cracking contest.
The visitors were valiant in defeat, successfully closing the cap at several points throughout the game.
Whilst Sydney demonstrated the calibre of play they are capable of producing, they were outclassed by Adelaide, who were able to maintain consistent scoreboard pressure.
WNBA two-time all-star Crystal Langhorne proved to be a valuable pick-up for the Lightning, with an impressive 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Flames recruit Colleen Planeta also showed her worth, banking a mammoth 30 points and 11 rebounds.
BENDIGO SPIRIT V MELBOURNE BOOMERS (72 – 87)
The Boomers had a convincing win over the Spirit, taking control of the game early.
A commanding second half from the Boomers saw the visitors run out the game as 15 point winners.
Whilst the Spirit produced one last push back in the final quarter, it was too little too late for the home side.
The absence of Rebecca Tobin after a training head knock proved costly for Bendigo, however American Martè Grays added invaluable flare banking 12 points and nine rebounds.
Meanwhile, Boomers point guard Lindsay Allen had an inspired return from a knee injury with 19 points and seven assists.
SOUTHSIDE FLYERS V TOWNSVILLE FIRE (81 – 72)
The WNBL’s newest side entered the competition in spectacular fashion, with a nine-point win over Townsville.
In front of a formidable crowd at Dandenong Stadium, the Flyer’s line-up gelled with relative ease – an impressive feat considering the full squad has had limited training time together.
Leilani Mitchell starred in her WNBL return for Southside with 21 points, six rebound and four assists. She also got the crowd on their feet with a three-pointer buzzer beater at quarter time.
Alike Mitchell, Flyers captain Jenna O’Hea appeared not to have missed a beat after returning from Opals duties, scoring 19 points and collecting eight rebounds.
Whilst Townsville were bold in both offense and defence, they struggled to push past their opponents.
Yet coach Shannon Seebohm can take positives from the performances of several players, particularly WNBA import Bridget Carelton who scored a notable 20 points.
UC CAPITALS V ADELAIDE LIGHTNING (90 – 83)
The grand final rematch saw the UC Capitals claim bragging rights over Adelaide once again.
An inspired third quarter from the Capitals, saw them generate a 20-point turnaround after being ten points down at half time.
Despite a remarkable 32-point performance from Lauren Nicholson, Adelaide failed to stifle the third quarter momentum of their opponents.
Yet, the Capitals shared the scoring load with both Kesley Griffin and Keely Froling scoring 22 points, while Kia Nurse banked an impressive 28.
Adelaide were missing star recruit Crystal Langhorne to soreness, a significant loss after her formidable performance against Sydney on Friday night.
The exhilarating match was a staunch reminder as to why both sides found themselves in a grand final last year, and a tantalising taste of what may be to come in season 2019/20.
PERTH LYNX V SYDNEY UNI FLAMES (79 – 62)
The final game of round 1 saw Perth Lynx bank an imposing win against the Flames.
A disappointing 2018/19 season and a Friday night loss to the Lightning, meant Sydney were after redemption in their second match for the weekend.
However, the Lynx played with unpredictability and flare, largely thanks to WNBA import Imani McGee-Stafford.
Whilst McGee-Stafford had a quiet second half, the 201cm American was a commanding force for the home side, controlling the early play with her physicality and athleticism.
Yet the Lynx had a plethora of contributors all over the court, including Alison Schwagmeyer-Belger who starred with 21 points and 10 rebounds. She was supported by Katie Ebzery who had an impressive seven assists.
The absence of Ally Wilson and Britt Smart were costly for Sydney, who will need to regroup and review heading into their round 2 clash against the Flyers.