The South West Slammers split their weekend 1-1 with an unlucky 83-77 loss at home to Kalamunda Eastern Suns on Saturday night.
The contest was a consistently close affair, with the visitors proving worthy opponents in securing an away win without injured players Fejo and King.
Both teams started at a frenetic pace and the first quarter was a blistering offensive display with the Suns edging out the home team 27-24 after the first quarter. Young guard Tayah Burrows and Courtney Bayliss were both impressive early with 8 points each, while Jennie Rintala had 9 first quarter points to pace the visitors.
The second quarter started off on the wrong foot for the locals with Slammers star Brittany Hodges called for a third personal foul in the first minute of the second. However, they found some offensive output with Denehey hitting 3 long threes early to give the home side the early advantage.
On the other side of the floor, and with Hodges rooted to the bench in foul trouble, the visitors pumped the ball inside into Rintala and King looking to exploit the Slammers’ lack of size inside.
Without their dominant post in the game, the home side looked to zone defense in a bid to slow down the Suns high-paced offense. For the greater part, the Slammers enjoyed success until the closing minutes of the quarter, when the Suns offense clicked into gear with some quick transition basketball.
That allowed the visitors to close out the first half with a 51-43 advantage.
For the home team it was backcourt duo Denehey and Burrows who did the damage offensively with 12 and 11 points respectively. The visitors had import posts Rintala (17 pts, 7 rebs) and King (10 pts, 6 rebs) leading the way with both combining for an impressive 12 from 14 from the field to half time.
The opening minutes of the third quarter failed to inspire as both teams took their time to regain rhythm. Hodges entered the contest with 6 minutes left in the third and with her team down 57-48, the home team needed a change in momentum. It came with the assistance of 5-1 foul count against the Suns with over 3 minutes left in the third. However, Coach Tom Knowles’ outfit did well to repel their attacks and at three quarter time the Suns held a seven-point lead, 64-57.
The home team applied zone for the fourth quarter and it presented perimeter difficulties early for all but Bec Motroni, who was the only Suns player who threatened from deep with two threes. The Slammers zone yet again allowed them to swing the game in their favour and with 4 minutes left, the Suns lead had been cut to 4, 73-69.
The Slammers threw everything at the Suns late in the fourth and the lead was down to 3 points with 2 minutes remaining. However, crucial three pointers by Brooks and another by Motroni helped keep the home team at arm’s distance. At full time the Suns were good enough to win 83-77.
Key contributors for the game were Courtney Bayliss (22 pts, 8 rebs) and Tayah Burrows (18 pts, 4 asts) for the South West team. For the visiting Suns, despite being well held in the second half, Jennie Rintala finished with 23 pts and 11 rebounds while Devanny King was terrific across the board with 19 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists.
Article by Vlad Alava
Photo by Vikki Hile