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WNBL Rd.17 Wrap: Suzy on Fire!Tweet
SUZY Batkovic has saved the WNBL season for defending champion Townsville with two outstanding road games in Victoria.
The Batgirl was a colossus as the Fire rocked Dandenong 92-78, then backed it up with a 31-point haul as Townsville staved off the Spirit in Bendigo.
It was the type of performance most of the league's Rio Olympians would have been happy to submit into MVP calculations and the type some would be happy to have just once in their careers.
With 26 points and 11 rebounds, Batkovic ensured Townsville won every quarter against the Rangers, despite the best efforts of Sara Blicavs and two former Fire players and championship-winners, Nat Novosel and Steph Cumming.
Micaela Cocks offered great support with 6-of-9 threes and seven rebounds.
Batkovic (below, pic courtesy of the Fire) backed up with a round-high 31 points as Townsville held Bendigo at arm's length, keeping the Spirit chasing after first and second-quarter scores of 23-16 and 26-12 respectively.
To their credit after trailing by as many as 25, the Spirit rallied behind Kelsey Griffin to trim it all the way back to two. Batkovic then took control, with six free throws in the final minute to clinch the key win.
Adelaide stunned Canberra with a 43-38 first-half, Alex Ciabattoni (below) enjoying her best game of the season with a 17-point, nine-rebound double. The door was ajar for Lightning with Marianna Tolo restricted by foul woes before finishing strongly.
It was 66-66 with 4:48 left but an 8-0 finish in which Lauren Mansfield and Tolo were prominent, sealed an important win for the Caps.
Asia Taylor had another eye-catching double for Sydney with 28 points at 60 per cent, 15 rebounds and two steals as Sydney staved off a much tougher challenge from Melbourne than anticipated.
The Boomers, paced by Maddie Garrick, led by a point with a period to play, taking the title favourites to the wire.
In Perth, Canberra found itself chasing the Lynx for the bulk of the contest as Sami Whitcomb scored 27 points to pace the home team.
The loss put a severe dampener on the Caps' post-season hopes, Canberra now virtually needing to win all of its remaining games to be any chance.
UNI of CANBERRA CAPITALS 74 (Tolo 20, Mansfield 18, Ruef 11; Ruef 20 rebs; Mansfield 5 assts) d MAC ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 66 (Ciabattoni 17, Hodges 16, Planeta 10; Ciabattoni 9 rebs; Logic 6 assts) at The Lighthouse, Titanium Security Arena.
TOWNSVILLE FIRE 92 (Batkovic 26, Cocks 25, Murray 20; Batkovic 11 rebs; Wilson 7 assts) d DANDENONG RANGERS 78 (Blicavs 24, Cumming 16, Novosel 14; Novosel 7 rebs; Cumming 5 assts) at The Ranger Station, Dandenong Stadium.
TOWNSVILLE FIRE 83 (Batkovic 31, Murray 22, Garbin 12; Wilson 9 rebs; Wilson 6 assts) d BENDIGO SPIRIT 77 (Griffin 28, Dietrick, Raincock-Ekunwe 12; Raincock-Ekunwe 14 rebs; Dietrick 5 assts) at The Spirit Level, Bendigo Stadium.
SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 72 (Taylor 28, Snell, Hamson 10; Taylor 15 rebs; Mitchell 7 assts) d DEAKIN MELBOURNE BOOMERS 67 (Garrick 16, Smart 11, Cole 10; Thompson 7 rebs; Keane 4 assts) at The Roo Range, State Basketball Centre.
PERTH LYNX 84 (Whitcomb 27, Mijovic 14, Hamblin 12; Hamblin 10 rebs; Lavey 4 assts) d UNI of CANBERRA CAPITALS 72 (Mansfield 19, Tolo 17, Ruef 10; Ruef 12 rebs; Mansfield 6 assts) at The Jungle II, Jack Bendat Stadium.