Red-hot Townsville Fire have blasted their way to outright first on the WNBL ladder after taking down fellow title contenders Melbourne Boomers and Bendigo Spirit in an impressive double.
The Fire kicked off the second leg of the Indigenous split round with an epic 101-96 double-overtime triumph over the Boomers at the Townsville Entertainment Centre on Wednesday in what was arguably the game of the season.
Import Karlee Samuelson (31 points, 7-of-10 three-pointers) was magnificent for Townsville, while rival American Kristy Wallace (26 points) and Tiffany Mitchell (21) valiantly led Melbourne's charge,
The competition's two top-ranked outfits entered the blockbuster with identical 12-4 records and were unable to be split at the end of regulation (76-all) or the first overtime (86-all).
The Fire had led by 10 points with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before the Boomers' 10-0 flurry, capped by Wallace's game-tying layup, forced the extension.
Townsville's WNBA champion Tianna Hawkins, who had 17 points and 14 boards while playing all 50 minutes, missed a close-range shot for the win in the dying stages of overtime after teammate Shyla Heal's triple tied the scores.
It took until deep into the second extension for the Fire, with a match-sealing 9-0 run inside 90 seconds, to finally shake Melbourne.
Townsville backed it up on Saturday with their 10th successive victory, Hawkins starring with 32 points in an 88-62 trouncing of Bendigo.
The Spirit's fourth straight defeat sees them hanging onto fourth position by a thread with an 11-8 record.
Fifth-ranked Perth Lynx (10-8) started the round by thrashing Adelaide Lightning 108-82 on Thursday at Adelaide Arena, a 25-9 fourth quarter and Chloe Bibby's 29 points, including 7-of-9 from downtown, pivotal.
Sunday's clash with third-placed Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre was always going to be a tougher ask for Perth in their bid to pinch fourth spot from Bendigo.
But the Lynx were made to pay dearly for an abhorrent start, whacked 35-16 in the opening term en route to a 102-83 loss.
Meanwhile, the Boomers bounced back from their double-overtime disappointment in Townsville by spanking the Sydney Flames 87-57 at Quaycentre on Sunday.
Mitchell (24 points) and captain Cayla George (22 points, 13 rebounds) had their way with the Flames, who shot just 32 per cent and committed 22 turnovers.
On Saturday, the Lightning snapped a six-game losing streak by beating the lowly Canberra Capitals 78-72 at the National Convention Centre.
Adelaide trailed 27-14 at quarter-time before flipping the script with a 27-10 second stanza.
Marena Whittle racked up 27 points and 14 boards for the Lightning, while Caps skipper Jade Melbourne produced a triple-double (19 points, 12 rebounds, 14 assists).