The West Coast Waves signalled their playoff intentions with a stunning 79-77 win over the league-leading Brydens Sydney Uni Flames in Alice Springs on Saturday.
“It was a brilliant game of basketball,” Waves coach Kennedy Kereama said.
“Sydney are a great team, credit to them, they fought hard, we fought hard and whoever won that game would have earned it.”
Waves import Lindsey Moore (24 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals) and Flames floor general Leilani Mitchell (23 points, 4 rebounds, 2 steals) produced an entertaining point guard shootout for the first three quarters, before West Coast’s defence prevailed in a gripping finale.
“Something that Sydney do really well, (which) we probably did better tonight in patches was pressure defence,” Kereama said.
“We know they are one of the league-leaders in how few turnovers they concede, so we really challenged ourselves to try and get after them and see if we could force a few and I thought we really did a good job.”
Moore received brilliant support from centre Louella Tomlinson (19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks), while Cassie Harberts (10 points, 8 rebounds) and Darcee Garbin (12 points) both provided punch from the power forward position.
For Sydney Uni, Mikaela Ruef (11 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists) and Rohanee Cox (12 points, 3 steals) were strong in the frontcourt, while Katie Ebzery came to life in the second half –after being blanketed by Toni Edmondson and Kate Fielding – to finish with 11 points and four boards.
Tomlinson was aggressive early, scoring eight points in the game’s opening five minutes, but Mitchell answered with a pair of triples to put the Flames up 15-14.
A Nicole How three-pointer on the quarter-time buzzer extended Sydney Uni’s lead to four, and with Cox and Mitchell teaming well the visitors threatened to pull away.
But Moore continued her impressive night, adding eight points and three assists for the term to keep West Coast in touch heading towards the long break.
With Garbin and Toni Edmondson producing timely cameos to end the period, the Waves piled on 13 points to two to give themselves a 41-36 half-time edge.
Mitchell and Tomlinson continued to carry their respective teams’ offensive fortunes after the break as the game threatened to become a classic.
An alley-oop and triple from the Waves centre had the hosts ahead by eight, but two Mitchell three-pointers and a pair of sweet Ebzery jumpers put the Flames back within a basket.
Tomlinson and her running mate Moore then pushed West Coast clear once again, but Casey Samuels and Ebzery pinched a late lead for Sydney Uni.
Moore showed her class with a buzzer-beating bucket to give the home team 64-63 lead at the last change, then hit a tough long-range bomb early in the fourth after the Flames had taken a four-point edge.
From there the defences stood firm as the game reached stalemate for almost five minutes, but after scoring resumed Edmondson and Moore made back-to-back baskets in the final 90 seconds and Moore held her nerve from the foul line to secure victory.
“She did a great job,” Flames coach Shannon Seebohm said of Moore.
“She had seven assists and only three turnovers, knocked down big shots and made free-throws when they needed her to, she’s a really class player.
“Our execution was pretty poor at times, that’s an area we need to concentrate on because I feel when we do it well we can be a really good team and we’re tough to defend.
“But when we break down we rely too much on Leilani and Katie, whereas we need to have everybody involved to be successful.”
West Coast Waves 79 (Moore 24, Tomlinson 19, Garbin 12)
Sydney Uni Flames 77 (Mitchell 23, Cox 12, Ebzery 11, Ruef 11)
Article from WNBL.com.au