THE Cockburn Cougars have battled valiantly in the Women’s SBL all season long despite being terribly shorthanded so it was only fitting they were on the positive end of that on Friday night as they took advantage to beat the Perth Redbacks and end their playoff hopes.
From before the 2019 season even started, the Cougars were a wounded line-up with star point guard and leader BJ Moyes rupturing her ACL and requiring a knee reconstruction.
Things have only continued to spiral in terms of personnel for Cockburn with rising star Ruby Benn’s season-ending early and even superstar import Kisha Lee leaving mid-season.
The Cougars have continued to fight hard and stuck together as a group, though, and were rewarded for that on Friday night with a tremendous four-quarter performance to beat the Redbacks at Belmont Oasis.
The Redbacks came into the minus their star backcourt pairing of Lauren Mansfield and Rosie Deegan, and then once Nes’eya Williams went down injured too with what appeared a corked thigh, they just didn’t have the quality of depth to get what would have been a much-needed win.
In the end, Cockburn prevailed 73-66 to snap their seven-game losing run and win their fourth game of the season to end the playoff hopes of the Redbacks.
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The equation was simple for the Redbacks as they hosted the Cougars on Friday night at Belmont Oasis, they just needed to win the game and then hope that the Kalamunda Eastern Suns lost to the Joondalup Wolves on Saturday night at HBF Arena.
Should both those events happen, the Redbacks would finish the regular season in eighth position and book in a quarter-final clash with the Lakeside Lightning.
But that wasn’t to be with the Redbacks never really able to get going in the absence of Lauren Mansfield and Rosie Deegan with their season on the line. Then when Nes’eya Williams got injured in the first half, things got out of hand for the Redbacks and they never recovered.
However, Perth did start the game strongly to lead 19-9 by quarter-time. But the Cougars pulled it back to only trail by six at half-time.
Cockburn then took control to deliver one of their most impressive halves of the season to put a dagger through the dreams of the Redbacks to reach the finals.
The Cougars delivered 26 points to 17 in the third quarter, and another 23 points to 19 in the fourth to withstood any runs that the Redbacks tried to make to hold on and win the game by seven points.
It was a first win for Cockburn since beating Willetton back on June 8 and it snapped a seven-game losing streak as they improve to 4-17 on the season now with one game remaining on Saturday night at Wally Hagan Stadium against the East Perth Eagles.
It was a devastating blow for the Redbacks who fall out of playoff contention and hand eighth place to the Eastern Suns before they even have to play in Round 20. The Redbacks finish the season now with a 9-13 record.
Matilda Muir had a big night for the Cougars in the win finishing with 20 points, six rebounds and three steals.
Import Alina Hartmann continued her strong form with another 18 points, 14 rebounds and three assists with Haylee De Sousa contributing eight points and three rebounds, Vanessa Michael four points, eight boards, four assists and three steals, and Jodee Sontay three points, five rebounds and three assists.
Guard Nicole Roberts stood out too with the 291-game veteran producing 16 points, eight assists, three rebounds and two steals on shooting 4/8 from the field and 7/10 from the foul line.
Morgan Pullins top-scored for the Redbacks with 20 points, 11 rebounds and four steals with Jess Jakens adding 18 points, seven boards, four steals and three assists.
Denielle Lipscombe added eight points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals for Perth, and Taylor Roberts five points, six rebounds and two steals as she tried to stand up in the absence of Mansfield, Deegan and Williams.
The game brought to an end the first season in charge at the Redbacks of coach Craig Allen and while disappointed to not reach the finals, he’s a realist and always knew it would be tough without his two stars and even more so when a third got injured.
But he couldn’t fault the effort of his players and he made sure they knew that after the game.
“It’s definitely tough and at the end of the day you can’t question the effort and intent of those that were on the floor. Everyone that went on the floor gave it everything they have but at the end of the day we just fell a bit short,” Allen said.
“The odds were stacked against us but through that you can build your strength and character. Hopefully they can grow from that but right now it’s obviously really disappointing. But hopefully it can provide a platform for next year.
“I just thanked them for their effort and what they tried to put on the floor. You can’t question what they gave out and at the end of the day it just didn’t fall our way.
“We didn’t control the game when we needed to control the game, and you put Nes’eya into that group and Rosie and Lauren and it changes the tempo of the game. But we didn’t have them and you can’t dwell on that now or change it.
“You have to deal with it and out of adversity comes strength so hopefully this disappointment and adversity it can build some strength and integrity going forward.”
WOMEN’S SBL FIXTURES – WEEK 20
Texture WA Perth Redbacks 66 lost to Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars 73
Class 1 Orthodontics Rockingham Flames 76 defeated Lakeside Lightning 66
Willetton Tigers v Scarboro Toyota Perry Lakes Hawks – Willetton Basketball Stadium 5.00pm
Round 1 Fitness Cockburn Cougars v Schweigen East Perth Eagles – Wally Hagan Stadium 5.00pm
Cachet Homes Mandurah Magic v Bethanie Warwick Senators – Mandurah Aquatic and Recreation Centre 5.00pm
Chambers Franklyn Joondalup City Wolves v Kalamunda Eastern Suns – HBF Arena 6.00pm