The much anticipated arrival of Perth Lynx centre Nat Burton’s first game for the year was not enough for a Lady Hawks return to the winners circle as they succumbed to another defeat against the South West Slammers on Sunday afternoon, 68-53.
The visitors were quick off the mark with a 10-2 opening but the home team responded with a run of their own. Georgia Denehey sparked the offense into gear with two three pointers after coming off the bench to help initiate the Slammers into a 15-0 run in three minutes. Adding to the change of momentum was Perry Lakes’ struggles against the Slammers’ zone, which held the visitors scoreless for seven minutes until Lauren Jeffers connected on a lay-up with 20 seconds remaining in the first quarter. At the first break it was the Slammers who held an 18-12 advantage.
The second offering of the game followed the trend of the first as the Slammers women continued to challenge the Hawks offense to not only make shots from the perimeter but also finish at the ring. The Hawks also tried to swing the game in their favour by alternating between zone and man but their struggles on offense were compounded by a defence that offered little by way of containment and pressure. At the half, it was a terrific opening twenty minutes of basketball for the home team, extending their lead to a 36-17 margin. The Slammers women were led offensively by Denehey and van Kleef with 13 points and 12 points respectively while the visitors had Nat Burton with 6 points and 9 rebounds. However, the most telling statistic for the Lady Hawks was their 20% field goal percentage and to add to their offensive woes, 2-10 from the free throw line.
Needing to respond in the third to bring the game back into a contest, the Lady Hawks tried to increase the pace on the floor but with little effect as the home team withstood the early challenge. The Slammers women had the answer to every Hawks attempt at bridging the gap and were good enough to hit shots from the perimeter to continue to keep the girls in blue at arms distance. At the end of the third quarter South West edged further to a 53-32 difference.
Needing a spark to get her team going for one last push towards victory, Coach Smith threw the ball to Gabby O’Sullivan’s hands and the energetic point guard led the way offensively as the margin was reduced to 14 points. It was down to 11 as Antonia Farnworth hit a three pointer with six minutes to go but once again the Slammers were able to respond via the free throw line, some perimeter shots courtesy of Burrows and van Kleef as well some poor unforced turnovers by the visitors that halted a potential Hawks comeback. Finally, a Courtney Bayliss three pointer with two minutes to go put an end to any Lady Hawks fight back as the margin increased to 14.
The remainder of the game was a clock management exercise for the home team, the game concluding with a 68-53 victory for South West.
The Slammers women had four girls finish in double digits led by van Kleef with 22 points while Denehey (14 points), Bayliss (13 points) and Burrows (12 points) all played their part to help pace the home team’s score.
The Lady Hawks had star duo Antonia Farnworth (14 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists) and Nat Burton (17 points and 15 rebounds) play their part but it was ultimately not enough for the visitors.
Victory sees Coach Harper and his team move to a season record of 4-6 while the defending Champions are left languishing with a 1-9 record in their quest to defend their 2017 title.
Article by Vlad Alava
Photo by Sports Imagery Australia