There were some surprise results in the final round of the Australia WNBL regular season. Although the top four play-off positions have been decided there was still plenty to play for in the Townsville Fire against Sydney University Flames match up on Friday night.
It turned out the Fire were engulfed by the Flames suffering their biggest loss of the season (107-81) and worse still gave up home court advantage for their best-of-three semi-final series against the same opponents next week should a third game be required.
The two teams were one win apiece in the head to head match up entering the contest. Micaela Cocks had a team high 4 assists to go with 4 points but it was a night to forget for the 2016 champions.
Perth Lynx are assured of the WNBL minor premiership but having won 14 straight games it was a major surprise that they lost their final two regular season games albeit both were on the road. On Friday they went down 74-69 at Canberra Capitals and on New Years Eve Townsville provided the fireworks as they protected home court with an 83-51 romp.
It was a good finish to the season for Canberra’s Kiwi guard Chevannah Paalvast who not only notched three rebounds and two points in the victory but also enjoyed the satisfaction of being named the Capitals Defensive Player of the Year before the game. It was the last game of the season for Canberra who, after a tough season, won five of their last six games to finish with a 7-14 record.
For Perth Toni Farnworth had a shooting night to forget going zero from six against Canberra but she bounced back strongly against Townsville finishing second in scoring (8 points) and rebounding (6 boards).
Micaela Cocks (10 points) was one of three Townsville players in double figures and she also secured 5 rebounds.
In a game of little consequence Melbourne Boomers thumped Dandenong Rangers 80-45 on Saturday night. Kalani Purcell underlined her value to the Boomers heading into the play-offs – only 5 points for the Tall Ferns forward but a game high equaling 10 rebounds plus 4 steals and 3 assists. Fellow Tall Fern Rebecca Ott chipped in with 2 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
Amazingly Dandenong were held scoreless – yes zero points – in the final quarter won 21-0 by Melbourne!
The semi-final games begin next Wednesday with Perth (featuring Toni Farnworth) taking on Melbourne (Purcell and Ott) and Sydney matching up against Townsville (Cocks). Both are best-of-three series with Perth and Sydney hosting the third and deciding game if required.
Over in Europe Jillian Harmon had the satisfaction of leading Napoli to a convincing 69-47 road win against her former club Le Murra Lucca. Harmon won an Italian League championship with Lucca last season but turned on a 16 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists, 2 steals master-class against her former teammates to help Napoli to end the year on a high note – they are now fifth on the ten team Italian League table but significantly only one win behind second placed Venezia.