Round 4 of the WNBL featured some high-profiled matchups between some of the top teams in the league. Highlighting the matchups was the highly anticipated game between the league-dominating Bendigo Spirit and Townsville Fire. Even the matchups that fans thought were going to be blowouts turned into battles that caused shifts in the rankings.
Note: Last week's rankings are in brackets.
1. Bendigo Spirit (1)
There was a point in time where it seemed like Bendigo would give up its top ranking in the 68-66 win over Townsville. It quite literally took until the final buzzer to determine who was going to come out of this nail-biting game.
Both teams were trading buckets but Bendigo, courtesy of the three-point heroics of Tess Lavey and Anneli Maley, came back to secure the win. Four players scored in double-digits with Lavey and Alicia Froling each recording 16 points, Maley recording 12 points along with 16 rebounds, and Kelsey Griffin putting up 16 points herself.
Nothing about the first half of Bendigo's 77-60 win over the Sydney Flame made sense. The team found themselves down against one of the worst teams in the league, trailing 39-33 at the half. It seemed like an upset was brewing but the Spirit were able to tie the game up a few times in the third quarter and then went on a tear to end the game. Maley was dominant as per usual, recording 26 points and 11 rebounds in the comeback win.
2. Melbourne Boomers (3)
The Melbourne Boomers completely blew the Perth Lynx out of the water with extremely high levels of playing on all ends in their 88-73 win. Every single player hit the floor as the time dwindled down on another Melbourne win.
The whole entire starting five were dominant throughout the entire game. Olivia Nelson-Ododa scored 10 points while also recording two steals and a block. Tiffany Mitchell continued her tear on the league with 16 points, eight rebounds, and two steals. But the two main stars of this game were Cayla George and Kristy Wallace.
Both George and Wallace recorded a double-double. George recorded 23 points and 13 rebounds while Wallace recorded 10 points and 11 assists.
The Boomers completely dismantled the Lynx which allowed for them to take over the two spot in this week's Power Rankings.
3. Townsville Fire (2)
Even though they only lost by two points, the Fire couldn't live up to maintaining their second spot on the Power Rankings with the Boomers getting a win. Regardless, a three spot is not one to be upset about for Fire fans.
Tianna Hawkins and Lauren Nicholson pretty much found themselves carrying the team. Hawkins recorded 21 points and seven rebounds while Nicholson recorded 13 points. If Nicholson would've hit her layup with one second left, Townsville could've seen themselves climbing up the ladder and not down.
4. Adelaide Lightning (5)
The Adelaide Lightning found themselves on the winning end in their two games this round. They defeated the Canberra Capitals 90-80 and then followed with a 91-72 blow out victory against the Southside Flyers.
It was a balanced scoring effort against the Capitals with four players scoring in double digits. Isabele Borlase and Steph Talbot both recorded 13 points while Marena Whittle had 18 and Jacinta Monroe scored 19. Their offence was extremely efficient and fluid which blanketed over how lackluster their defence was.
Adelaide woke up against Southside and purely dominated. It seemed like literally no one could stop Kierstan Bell and Monroe from flat out dominating the Flyers everywhere.
Both players recorded a double-double with Bell recording 23 points and 14 rebounds and Monroe recording 22 points and 10 rebounds. Even if Adelaide didn't get the win over Canberra earlier in the round, the team would've still surpassed Southside after this incredible win.
5. Southside Flyers (4)
There was no scenario in my mind where the Flyers were going to maintain their fourth place spot. After almost dropping their matchup against the Flames in which they did come out with the 82-75 win, it was sloppy at best. They struggled finding the bottom of the net until Rebecca Cole took the reigns and scored 14 points in the fourth quarter to seal the deal for the team.
Here is where the head scratcher starts. Adelaide is definitely a team that is seemingly evenly matched with Southside. However, the Flyers could not do anything right.
The Flyers struggled all game with shooting, only hitting 38.6 per cent from the field and 28 per cent from three. They struggled at the free throw line only hitting 76.5 per cent. Sara Blicavs and Maddy Rocci did all they could, with Blicavs recording 16 points and Rocci recording 26 points and six rebounds, but overall struggles caused the 72-91 blowout defeat.
6. Perth Lynx (6)
The Lynx did not look efficient at all in their loss to the Boomers. The whole time it seemed like there was a major disconnect between players defensively. They let Melbourne get easy shots from everywhere on the court and couldn't use their scoring to render it.
The team shot 32.6 per cent from the field and 21.1 per cent from beyond the arc. Those numbers are strange coming from a team loaded with shooters and high efficiency scorers.
Chloe Bibby played a great game recording 12 points. Lauren Scherf continues to make herself known down low with 15 points and seven rebounds. Sami Whitcomb fell just short of recording a double-double, collecting 20 points and nine rebounds.
7. Sydney Flames (7)
It was hard to place Sydney over Canberra due to the median of the scoring spread in both teams respective losses. However, what brought the Flames over the edge was how they fought overall against the Flyers and the Spirit.
Their game against the Flyers was the first of the two nail-biters the Flames put on this round. They found themselves down 31-34 at the half and eventually took a 61-57 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Unforced turnovers turned into Southside buckets and any hope of a come back slowly dwindled into a 75-82 loss.
The Flames lead their opponents up until deep into the third quarter until the Spirit outmuscled the Sydney-based team everywhere down the stretch. Keely Froling and Shyla Heal dominated for the Flames with Heal scoring 15 points while Froling recorded 17 points and seven rebounds. It was a tremendous effort against the best team in the league that couldn't be overlooked despite the 17-point margin.
8. Canberra Capitals (8)
Even though the Capitals only lost by 10 points in their sole game this round, it wasn't enough for them to surpass the Flames in this week's Power Rankings.
Canberra struggled mightily from beyond the arc, shooting a measly 16.7 per cent. The Capitals only attempted 12 shots from three-point territory but if they would've made even a few of those, there was a huge chance they would've come up with the upset. Rae Burrell stuffed the scoring sheet with 20 points on 50 per cent shooting while Jade Melbourne, in her return from injury, scored 10 points with eight rebounds and three steals in the 80-90 loss.
Round 5 of the 2022/23 WNBL season begins on Wednesday, December 7 with the Melbourne Boomers against the Townsville Fire at the State Basketball Centre from 6:30pm AEST.
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