Written for sbl.asn.au by Vlad Alava
THE Mandurah Magic women returned to the winners circle on Thursday night with a hard fought 62-51 victory over the visiting South West Slammers.
Both teams started slowly with one field goal between the two combatants in the opening two and-a-half minutes before the Magic put together an 8-0 run that saw them force the visitors into an early timeout without a made field goal. The Slammers were made to wait until six minutes into the game before Brittni Montgomery ended their drought with a short corner jump shot.
Prior the home fans were greeted with the return of Carly Boag and the star forward didn’t wait too long before registering her first points in her return.
At the end of the first quarter, a terrific defensive effort by the Magic saw them hold an early 19-9 advantage over the Slammers.
In contrast to the opening quarter, both teams tried to increase the tempo of the game to start the second by pushing the ball in transition. However an increase in defensive intensity by the two teams also resulted in multiple turnovers by all involved which halted both teams efforts on the scoreboard. Fortunately, the last five minutes of the first half provided more offensive continuity, closing out the first half adding 12 points a piece with the Magic women maintaining their 10-point advantage, 31-21.
Mandurah veteran Casey Mihovilovich led all scorers with 11 points along with three assists, while Slammers import Makailah Dyer led the visitors with six points, four rebounds and three assists.
Third quarter action saw the visitors reduce the margin back to four points courtesy of six straight points to start the quarter as the home team took some time to respond to a more physical defensive approach by the visitors.
However back to back Magic three point baskets by Mihovilovich and Boag in transition stamped the momentum back in favour of Craig Watts’ team.
To their credit, the Slammers women refused to yield and finished the third quarter on a seven-point run to whittle the home team’s lead to five points 39-34 with one quarter left to play.
The last 10 minutes saw an exchange of scores that kept the margin hover around the five-point mark before a Boag lay-up and an Emma Klasztorny triple helped extend the lead out again to nine points with a little over five minutes remaining in the contest.
With the game still very much in the balance the next critical point was Montgomery fouling out on the back of a technical foul with over four minutes to go. That effectively ended the Slammers run as the Magic held them at arms length to win the game 62-51.
Mandurah were led by Mihovilovich who finished with a game high 17 points and five assists, Emma Klasztorny with 11 points and 15 rebounds while Carly Boag finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and three steals in her return to action after over 12 months out with injury.
The Slammers’ Makailah Dyer finished with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists while Brittni Montgomery and Courtney Bayliss added 11 and 10 points respectively.
Despite the tough and dour contest, the Magic would have been pleased with the way the team was able to respond to every run that an in-form Slammers team pitched at them to close out the contest. Boag’s performance in her long awaited return was also a welcome bonus.
The Slammers women would have entered the game full of confidence on the back of recent form but shooting at 29 per cent and losing the rebound count 39-54 always makes it difficult to finish games victorious. The fact that coach Nathan Grover’s group was so competitive on the back of those stats alone gives further credence that his team is definitely on the right track.
Mandurah will have a Perth Redbacks and Willetton double header next round while South West will face-off against defending champions Lakeside Lightning at home on Saturday night.