Goal shooter Mwai Kumwenda lit up John Cain Arena in the final term of the Melbourne Vixens loss to the NSW Swifts on Saturday.
It had been a lean scoring game for the bottom of the table side, struggling to find the best combination through the mid and front courts. They’d only put up 25 goals coming into the final term.
After a brief stint at goal attack, Kumwenda came alive, nailing six of her seven Super Shot attempts to shoot at 93% in the last.
For coach Simone McKinnis however, it was too little too late.
“[It was] great to be shooting two pointers, but where was it in the first quarter?,” she told media post-game.
“That’s my question for the whole group. There was some good ball movement, working it short and sharp and working it to the circle edge… [we] just needed that want for the ball right from the start.
“We don’t have a set rule around taking the Super Shot. If it feels right, if it’s more sort of natural. We were in a position today where we probably wanted some two-points.”
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The Swifts were dominant for the first three quarters, deflecting the Vixens flat movement into the circle with ease.
McKinnis was chopping and changing from early in the first quarter. Co-captain Kate Moloney found herself straight into the wing attack bib, swapping Hannah Mundy to centre.
Mundy, who’s been enjoying her new role, was one of the shining lights in what was a disappointing game. She finished the game with 21 feeds and 11 goal assists, providing a dynamic and play-making option through the mid-court.
Not satisfied with her side’s performance early, McKinnis said she was desperately searching for a “spark.”
“We were struggling a bit to get that depth and that ball movement down in that attack end,” she said.
“[We] were just looking for that in that first switch with Kate [Moloney] and Hannah [Mundy]. It’s just that different dynamic, being able to work the ball short and sharp and with a bit of speed on the ball to circle edge.
“You’re always looking for something that’s going to bring that spark out there on court, because we were quite flat. In that sort of game, you’re looking for something that’s going to bring that spark and urgency about what we do.
“Our last quarter, 23 to 15, that’s a great quarter, but that has to be coming at the start of the game not at the end when it’s all over.”
The young blood
In what has been a largely rebuilding year for the suddenly-young Vixens, getting court time into the inexperienced players has become more important than ever.
Though Mundy is thriving in the centre position, she wasn’t the only switching in on Saturday.
Allie Smith has also been given license to hold the centre bib, and has been relishing the responsibility with her “relentless” play, as Mundy has described it.
She once again swapped from wing defence to centre, bringing Kate Eddy back on from the bench.
McKinnis was happy with what she added in the final term with her four goal assists and eight feeds.
“I think Allie came into the middle and did a really good job,” she said.
“She was certainly doing what we asked of her, and that was working that ball short and sharp.
“There was certainly that spark with Allie in the middle, a little bit of finesse on the feed and placement of the ball in the circle. I thought she was great, and she worked the ball smarter in that attack end.”
Young goal attack Ruby Barkmeyer was only used in the second half of the match, perhaps regretfully so.
The girl from Kangaroo Flat made nine goal assists, 11 feeds and shot three of her seven goal attempts in her short time on court, adding an extra layer of craftiness to the Vixens movement.
“She finished the game really strongly, and I was really pleased to see that,” McKinnis said.
“But we’ve also got to be putting up those shots up early as well. The pressure can’t be just all on one shooter, so we need two shooters on court that are going to be a threat at the shot.”
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