THE South West Slammers sent an early scare into the Lakeside Lightning on Friday night but the defending champions responded emphatically to maintain top spot with an 86-55 victory at Lakeside Recreation Centre.
With the Slammers needing an upset win to keep their finals prospects alive in the Women’s SBL, they took it right up to the league-leading Lightning early doors racing to a 7-2 lead.
They went on to lead 12-4 and remained on top for the rest of the last quarter to head into the quarter-time break leading 27-12.
It was a start to give hope of the upset that would put the Slammers back in the finals hunt, but the Lightning responded to hold them to 28 points over the final three quarters.
They scored 74 points themselves to go on to win by 31 points to retain top position on the Women’s SBL table even without star import Hannah Stewart. The Slammers are now 8-12 and having lost three straight their finals hopes look forlorn.
ROUND 18 WOMEN’S SBL PREVIEW
REDBACKS TO EMBRACE MANSFIELD’S OPALS CHANCE
NO TIGERS EXCUSES DESPITE BETTER THAN EXPECTED POSITION
YOUNG CRAWFORD PROVIDING COOL HEAD FOR FLAMES
ROUND 17 WOMEN’S SBL RECAP
Looking to respond to losses to the Warwick Senators and Joondalup Wolves, the Slammers were up for the challenge early against the Lightning on Friday night even without 209-game star Courtney Bayliss.
The Slammers scored the first basket of the game thanks to Brittni Montgomery and Bianca Donovan hit from downtown to put them up 5-2.
Kate Fielding then scored a layup to put the visitors up 7-2 and then Makailah Dyer continued her confidence from her 42 points last week and stepped back for a three as the Slammers went up 10-4.
When Dyer hit another triple South West led 15-8 before baskets to Montgomery and Dyer made it 19-8. Jae Flynn did respond with a three for Lakeside but Dyer hit her third triple and Ebony Bilcich chipped in with a layup too.
The Slammers went into quarter-time with spirits high leading 27-12 but it wouldn’t last against the defending champions.
Lakeside hit the first five points of the second period in the space of 45 seconds and that turned into 13-0 run before Dyer stopped the rot with her fourth three of the night for the Slammers.
It wasn’t until GeAnna Lualu-Summers hit from downtown with three minutes left in the half that the Lightning took the front and then by half-time, they led 47-37 finishing the half with a 14-3 run.
Both teams struggled to score in the third quarter with Lakeside only extending its lead to 11 by three quarter-time. But the Slammers didn’t have the depth to run with the Lightning for 40 minutes and Lakeside dominated the fourth quarter.
The Lightning put up 26 points to six in the last term to end up winning 86-55 to improve to 15-4 on the season with games to finish against Kalamunda, Perry Lakes and Rockingham.
The Slammers are now in trouble in terms of playoff hopes at 8-12 with only two games remaining against the Lady Hawks and Tigers.
Lightning coach Craig Mansfield was happy with the way his team fought back from a slow start, but he would much rather at this point of the season they weren’t getting in those positions.
“It’s always better to show that when you are behind like that to pull together, and keep it together and keep everything in check emotionally to lift the work rate and get a win,” Mansfield said.
“So that is better than going in the tank and not pulling it together. Even against Wolves last week we pulled it back together and hit the lead, we just lost it at the end. But at the same time, no it’s not good because if we are to win during the finals we need to play for four quarters.
“If we give teams during finals that sort of head start, we won’t chase them down that easily or at all. Our training has been great but we now have a double-header next weekend and we need to put eight good quarters together.”
The Lightning ended up with 52 rebounds to just 31 from the Slammers and 34 assists for the game while shooting 33/66 at 50 per cent from the field and 14/32 at 43 per cent from three.
After starting so well, the Slammers couldn’t maintain their efforts ending up shooting 33 per cent from the field and 35 per cent from beyond the arc along with getting to the foul line just seven times.
Ash Grant stepped up in the absence of Hannah Stewart for Lakeside with 19 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals with captain Courtney Mansfield delivering 16 points, seven boards and six assists while hitting 3/6 from deep.
Ellyce ironmonger also showed her range going 3/5 from downtown for 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists with GeAnna Lualu-Summers adding nine points and five assists, Jae Flynn seven points and Jess Van Schie seven points, six rebounds and five assists.
Abbie Ironmonger also produced six points, seven assists and four rebounds in just 12 minutes.
Makailah Dyer top-scored again for the Slammers with 19 points and six assists on 4/7 shooting deep.
Brittni Montgomery added 14 points and seven rebounds, Ebony Bilcich six points, Kate Fielding five points and eight rebounds, and Bianca Donovan five points.
Mansfield gave credit to the fight the Slammers put up especially in the absence of Bayliss who is playing big minutes and averaging 14.7 points and 7.7 rebounds a game in 2019.
But the championship-winning coach was ultimately happy with what the Lightning delivered over the last three quarters.
“They were excellent in the first quarter. They played really hard, they ran really hard and they got out the back on us and defensively a couple of times they came out with the ball, and they outlet and there would be three of them running the floor out behind our defence for layups,” Mansfield said.
“They were also 4/5 from three at quarter-time but a lot of that for us was self-inflicted. We didn’t get back, we dropped off Dyer too much and she shot the ball really well. Then some other people we didn’t follow the scout on and didn’t get on the correct hand or get the close out right.
“But in the second quarter the defence locked in and it probably coincided with them fatiguing a little bit. That was a big thing I noticed with them where even in the third quarter we were pretty good defensively, but we only pushed the lead out another four or five points.
“But they just don’t have the depth at the moment and had they had Bayliss tonight, it would have been a lot harder for us to crowd Dyer and Montgomery, and pack the paint. If they have Dyer and one more rotation, I think it’s a bit of a different looking game by the end of it.
“I thought they showed lots and lots of promising signs, but just ran out of juice a little bit by the end.”
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 18
Kalamunda Eastern Suns 90 defeated Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars 54
Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic 87 defeated Willetton Tigers 66
Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks 94 defeated Texture WA Perth Redbacks 85
Lakeside Lightning 86 defeated Print Sync South West Slammers 55
Schweigen East Perth Eagles 37 lost to Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames 82
Bethanie Warwick Senators v Schweigen East Perth Eagles – Warwick Stadium 6.00pm
Print Sync South West Slammers v Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks – Eaton Recreation Centre 6.00pm
Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – Mike Barnett Sports Complex 6.00pm