05/03/2024

The Perth Lynx made it five of their last six on the road against the Southside Flyers. (Photo: Perth Lynx/Twitter)

While she was kept quiet from the three-point line, Marina Mabrey changed her game in the second half to make it five wins from the last six for a purring Perth Lynx side.

Despite a limited first half influence, the Southside Flyers had no answers for Perth’s Marina Mabrey as the game fell away from them.

The American import has already made waves in Australia as a three-point specialist, but had gone 1/5 to the half, with nine points and three rebounds.

But in a tight and tense trip back to Dandenong Stadium, she, and many of her teammates lifted to storm home.

Struggling against the Flyers’ perimeter defence, forcing her to take shots from unfavourable positions, Mabrey shifted up her approach to the basket.

She began seeking out teammates more, finishing with five assists, and looked to aggress opposing point guards Maddison Rocci and Kristy Wallace more frequently.

In a stunning play early into the third, Mabrey made a steal straight out of Rocci’s hands and finished the lay-up expertly, putting her side up by four points.

She finished with an equal game-high three steals alongside fellow guard Alex Ciabattoni, and well above her season average 1.2 steals.

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Mabrey’s road to the rim was much more drive-heavy than usual, scoring 13 second half points for 22 total, 10 of those coming from two point attempts.

She helped to make it three in a row for the Lynx, and five wins in their last six games. The Lynx’s only two losses of the year have come by a combined five points.

It’s a run that has the whole of Western Australia watching on proudly, as the Lynx join the list of western teams that are continuing to notch up important victories. They’ve well and truly earnt their opposition’s respect.

But Mabrey didn’t do it alone. After a quiet start to the season for points, fellow American Jackie Young dropped 19 points at 52 per cent and five rebounds, showing why she was just so highly rated in pre-season.

While captain Darcee Garbin had an uncharacteristically quiet night on the defensive end, she also contributed on the scoresheet with 16, as did Sami Whitcomb.

Lauren Scherf was a menace under the rim as always, crashing the defensive glass with a massive 11 boards, nine on defence.

Southside on the slide

The reigning champions’ start to the season couldn’t have gone much worse, having now won just two from seven.

Perhaps more concerningly, the Flyers have lost three of their early season home games, including both to the Lynx. While they managed to stop Scherf from picking up a double-double again, Mabrey has become the thorn in their side.

While Rebecca Cole was out, being rested, Sara Blicavs and Jenna O’Hea both returned, basically giving Cheryl Chambers a full strength side.

There’s no doubting that the Flyers have lost star power with the likes of Leilani Mitchell and Liz Cambage departing – but tonight showed that there is more than enough quality in their place that should be translating to wins.

Abby Bishop’s early scoring contributions and game-long work under the rim saw her pick up a double-double, with 14 points and 12 boards. Similarly, Kristy Wallace added 14 points of her own while running the floor and dishing off four assists.

They seem to be struggling under pressure, and turnovers became a factor late into the game.

Rocci was one of the biggest culprits of this, firing off errant passes and letting loose Lynx players slip out of her vision. The Flyers finished with six more turnovers, while they had the ball stolen 11 times.

These turnovers resulted in 17 points to their opposition – a huge factor in a game that was decided by single figures.

We could truly see where Southside is at in 2022 in Sunday’s away match up against the Sydney Uni Flames, who’ve shown their own deficiencies in their one win and five losses so far.

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