31/05/2024

Image: WNBL website

A fixture with plenty of storylines and rivalry between the two sides, the Melbourne Boomers fought hard to seal victory after trailing in the first half.

Both teams came into Round 5 as two of the hottest teams in the league, both currently sitting inside the top four.

The Fire were missing key players in Morgan Yaeger and Zitina Aokuso and signed Kate Gaze to a short-term contract midway through the week to soften the blow.

Mia Murray and Tiffany Mitchell were instrumental in the first quarter for the Boomers, finishing with seven points each respectively.

In a fiery basket-for-basket tussle, the Fire’s outside shooting from the three-point arc helped them build a solid lead against last year’s champions.

The Boomers turned the ball over too many times in the first quarter and was costly as the Fire took a four-point lead going into quarter time.

Both teams ramped up physicality in the second quarter. Cayla George and Tiffany Mitchell hit consecutive three’s to reduce the Fire’s lead to two points. The Boomers were punished again as the Fire were instrumental, going on a four-point run to force a timeout.

Whilst the Boomers big’s in George and Olivia Nelson-Ododa were strong inside the post, Mikaela Ruef and Tianna Hawkins were equal for the Fire. The likes of Lauren Nicholson, Stephanie Reid and Karlie Samuelson were a threat from the arc, taking a 49-37 lead at half-time.

Off the shooting of the Fire, shooting at 16 from 28 at 57 per cent from two point range, the Boomers turnovers were the story for the first half, turning over the ball, 16-8.

The Boomers shooting from the three point arc, shooting at 6 from 10 at 60 per cent, was one positive for the Boomers staying in the match.

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The Boomers had a strong third quarter, outscoring the Fire 28-19 to start the comeback. Whilst the trio of Nelson-Ododa, George and Mitchell continued to shoot the ball well, scoring 23, 13 and 11 respectively, the run of 14-0 was a huge factor in the first five minutes of the quarter.

After a tough first half, Kirsty Wallace stepped up, scoring nine points for the quarter, adding seven assists and one steal.

Mitchell scored 10 points for the quarter, shooting at 75 per cent from the field and 100 per cent from the three point arc, helping the Boomers have the advantage at three quarter time, with a three point lead.

In a quarter of runs and possession in the last quarter, Nelson-Ododa was a force inside the post, solidifying inside the paint and finishing off tough buckets. The Boomers finished another dominant quarter, 19-10, to seal the victory to win, 84-78.

Four players for the Melbourne Boomers finished the match scoring double figures, Tiffany Mitchell (23 points, two rebounds, five assists, four steals), Olivia Nelson-Ododa (finishing the game of player of the match with 17 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and three blocks),  Kristy Wallace (17 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, one steal) and Cayla George (17 points, 10 rebounds, fours assists, two steals and one block) were among the Boomer’s best.

The Boomers go on the road for a double-header in round 6, taking on the Sydney Uni Flames on Friday night and travel to Adelaide to face the Adelaide Lightning on Sunday afternoon.

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