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WNBL Rd.18 Wrap: Bye bye BendigoTweet
CANBERRA kept alive its flickering hopes of an eleventh hour arrival in the WNBL post-season when it eliminated Bendigo from the race in a telling Round 18.
Dandenong's championship bona fides took a double hit when first, defending champion Townsville, then title favourite Sydney, lowered its colours to put a massive dent in any second-place finish aspirations the Rangers may have entertained.
Sydney, Perth and Dandenong will all be in the battle for the championship, having secured playoff placings, and Townsville now has to flex its muscle over Canberra to make up the Final Four.
The Fire were sizzling hot against the Rangers, leading by as many as 31, Kayla Standish with her best scoring output of the season for 22 points, Kelly Wilson (below) igniting her team with 16 points, nine boards and seven assists.
MADDIE Garrick and Alice Kunek combined to pull away from Lightning in Adelaide with a devastating 33-19 final period.
Adelaide was paced by a double-double from Laura Hodges, a career-best eight assists from Alex Ciabattoni and a career-high 25 points from Colleen Planeta. A big three by Kalisha Keane in the final quarter broke open the game as Adelaide ran out of steam.
THE Rangers desperately needed to make a statement in Sydney and led by six with a period to play.
But 10 minutes can be an eternity in a basketball game, Olympians Leilani Mitchell and Belinda Snell leading a 21-11 quarter to add a regular season championship to Sydney's revival.
THE round's most important game was in Canberra where either the Caps or Spirit were about to bite the dust.
When the Capitals produced a season-defining 24-4 third quarter to turn a seven-point halftime buffer into a 27-point lead, Bendigo's season was shot.
Abbie Wehrung struck 5-of-6 threes before injuring her knee and Kate Gaze added 13 points off the bench as Canberra showed it is not going out of 2016-17 calculations without a fight.
MELBOURNE almost threw a monkey-wrench into Perth's planning when the Lynx needed overtime to escape 87-81 in Perth.
A free throw by Carley Mijovic (17 points, 13 boards) tied it at 74-74, giving Melbourne 13 seconds to pull off the win in regulation.
Bec Cole's shot for the win missed and after it was tied 81-81 in the extension, Sami Whitcomb's 3-pointer broke open the contest.
Brianna Butler's 19 points also were big for the Lynx while Kalisha Keane was within touching distance of a triple-double with 16 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for the Boomers.
TOWNSVILLE FIRE 83 (Standish 22, Wilson 16, Batkovic 15, Garbin 12; Batkovic 12 rebs; Wilson 7 assts) d DANDENONG RANGERS 66 (Blicavs 12, Cumming 11, Novosel 10; Blicavs 11 rebs; 4 with 3 assts) at the Fire Station, Townsville Stadium.
MELBOURNE BOOMERS 85 (Garrick 22, Cole, Kunek 15, Smart 11; Thompson 10 rebs; Keane 5 assts) d MAC ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 72 (Planeta 25, Hodges 18, Ciabattoni 15; Hodges 15 rebs; Ciabattoni 8 assts) at The Lighthouse, Titanium Security Arena.
SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 81 (Mitchell 19, Snell 17, Hamson 16; Hamson 14 rebs; Snell 7 assts) d DANDENONG RANGERS 77 (Cumming 25, Malott 20; Scherf 9 rebs; Cumming 5 assts) at Study Hall, Brydens Stadium.
UNI of CANBERRA CAPITALS 77 (Wehrung 18, Tolo 14, Gaze 13; Ruef 12 rebs; Mansfield 6 assts) d BENDIGO SPIRIT 52 (Oliver 12, Griffin 11, Dietrick 10; Raincock-Ekunwe 13 rebs; Dietrick 3 assts) at Alphabet Soup Kitchen, Southern Cross Stadium.
PERTH LYNX 87 (Whitcomb 22, Butler 19, Mijovic 17, Hamblin 12; Mijovic 13 rebs; Lavey 5 assts) d MELBOURNE BOOMERS 81 (Keane 16, Cole 14, Cunningham 13, Kunek, Garrick 12; Keane 9 rebs; Keane 9 assts) in overtime at The Jungle II, Jack Bendat Stadium.