As each WNBL round passes, more players are stepping up and teams are starting to show what they're truly capable of.
In Round 3 we saw one team assert their dominance with a powerful win, another finally put their foot down and gain a maiden victory, but two sides remain winless.
BATTLE OF THE UNDEFEATED
In a highly anticipated matchup between the Southside Flyers and Townsville Fire, it was the Fire who came out on top to sit alongside the Bendigo Spirit on the ladder as the only two undefeated teams.
As predicted, it was a tight battle, and the teams were very competitive for most of the game. However, yet again it was the infamous Townsville duo of Steph Reid and Lauren Nicholson who created problems for the Flyers. Whether it was Reid's ability to snake the screen and get inside the key or finding her teammate with the hot hand in Nicholson, the two of them tore the Flyers defence apart.
The Fire stretched the floor with the likes of Mikaela Ruef, who did well inside considering her opposition. She was joined by Lara McSpadden who took the injured Zitina Aokuso's minutes and did well for her team posting eight points. But it wasn't just their guard's offence, the team had 11 steals for the game and never dropped their defensive intensity. They worked hard to stop the Flyers' guards from scoring, and it worked, only the prevailing presence of Lauren Jackson and Kayla Thornton inside (a combined score of 37 points) put pressure on the Fire.
MANSFIELD PUT OUT SYDNEY'S FLAME
Fourth time lucky, the Adelaide Lightning were finally able to get a win under their belt. They took out the winless Sydney Flames team by 20 points. This was on the back of Lauren Mansfield who knocked down seven three-pointers, shooting from deep at 100%. That number of threes alone is incredible, but to do it without missing any is not an accomplishment to be overlooked, in fact, she only missed one shot for the entire game on top of that, finishing with 23 points.
But it wasn't just the performance of Mansfield that resulted in the Lightning's first win, it was a team effort. Coach Natalie Hurst showed trust in her bench with every player getting on court and only two playing under 10 minutes. Star Steph Talbot had a quiet offensive game, but import Kirsten Bell stood up and was aggressive across the board. Her and Talbot used their length well to disrupt the Flames' pick and roll action which made things highly uncomfortable for Sydney's guards. Marena Whittle was also a menace, finding her rhythm offensively and being rewarded for her hustle, her physicality often too much for the opposition.
SYDNEY'S TOUGH START
The Sydney Flames have found themselves zero of three games to begin their season, and after a tough road trip in Round 3, are looking a little depleted. Their efforts as a team have improved over the course, but it hasn't been enough to secure them a win.
Defensively, they have been aggressive and disciplined in their approach and this is something that could be key to them winning games. Unfortunately, though, they can't win with their offence in the shape it is now. In all three of their losses, Sydney have shot the three ball at under 25% as a team. They are relying on their guards to be scoring threats, particularly from outside as they don't carry a large presence inside. Keely Froling and Jocelyn Willoughby have proven to be the go-to players, but the rest of the team appear to be lacking in confidence and unsure of how to counter the strong defence they are against.
Despite the stats and outcomes of their games, the Flames are still talented enough to do well this season. If they maintain their defensive passion and improve their offence then they are likely to surprise a few teams down the track.
ROUND 3 RESULTS
The Perth Lynx showed their offensive prowess and won their second game of the season, and the Melbourne Boomers took out an expected win against the struggling UC Capitals.
Fire def. Flyers 86-71
Lynx def. Flames 80-72
Lightning def. Flames 87-67
Boomers def. UC Caps 103-68