After Round 2 of the WNBL, it's the Melbourne Boomers who are still leading the way with three strong wins to their name. It's very good signs for coach Chris Lucas, who is still waiting on Kristy Wallace to return from injury.
We also saw promising signs from Sara Blicavs who is starting to find her feet (and the bottom of the basket). The Flyers were on a mission this round, winning two from two, and it was the Perth Lynx that also stood up, showing they are not to be overlooked.
Stand out performance: Mercedes Russell, Southside Flyers
Mercedes Russell led her team to two big wins this week. Putting the WNBL on notice after a couple of seasons off from playing in the league, she reminded everyone just what she is capable of. Across the two games this round, Russell averaged 21 points, 2.5 assists, and 8.5 rebounds. She was a crucial part of her team's victories, asserting her dominance against the UC Caps and backing it up against a tough Townsville Fire team.
While Lauren Jackson eases her way back into the competition, Russell is the main big for the Flyers. Her presence inside not only offers another option for her teammates but also allows guards to use her in the pick and roll, especially Maddy Rocci, who has been in stellar form so far this season. Russell offers a big target inside; she attracts attention and can hold her own on the defensive end. If she continues like this, Jackson will be pressed for minutes!
Most exciting game: Townsville Fire vs. Southside Flyers
Before Saturday night, the Townsville Fire were on a 17-game winning streak, stretching all the way back to last season. This was until the Flyers, in their second game of the round, took it upon themselves to end said streak. It was an all-round team effort, but it was ultimately Nyadiew Puoch who scored the free throw that got them over the line. A proven defensive threat with her length and athleticism, she also had an impact offensively, scoring a handy 10 points and dishing out two assists.
Other than Mercedes Russell's 22 points, it wasn't a high scoring game for the Flyers, the absence of Bec Cole felt on the offensive end. It was their defence, however, that kept them in the game. For the Fire, it was only Steph Reid who put up big numbers, followed by Courtney Woods, whereas other key players like Sami Whitcomb and Alice Kunek were kept at bay.
Towards the end of the game, it seemed to be the Fire that had the advantage, but the Flyers persevered and wouldn't let up. The phrase "free throws win games" is one many players have heard, and this game was a prime example of why it rings true.
Surprise of the round: Perth Lynx' come from behind win
The young and fresh-looking Adelaide Lightning team were set to get their first win of the new season, but it wasn't to be, as the Perth Lynx finished strongest to claim victory instead. Izzy Borlase was yet again in fine form, and well supported by other Lightning starters in Lauren Mansfield, Isabelle Bourne and Brianna Turner. Turner showed up known rebounding machine Anneli Maley, with a huge stat line of 23 boards alongside 14 points and five assists. Her team looked ready to take the game out, but it was the Lynx's Aari McDonald who had other ideas. The new import put up 29 points and had 11 assists. With an addition like her, it gives more space for Maley and Amy Atwell to do their thing, they both had 17 apiece. This result came as a surprise, but it is all too familiar for the Lightning, who seem to have a habit of losing tight games.
Round 2 Results
UC Capitals 79 defeated by Southside Flyers 104
Bendigo Spirit 62 defeated by Sydney Flames 68
Townsville Fire 74 defeated by Southside Flyers 75
Perth Lynx 92 defeated Adelaide Lightning 85
Sydney Flames 80 defeated by Melbourne Boomers 95