For the third match straight, the Adelaide Lightning dropped a potential win by less than a 10-point margin.
After losing their first two games to the table-topping Townsville Fire and Southside Flyers, it was the same old story against reigning champions the Melbourne Boomers.
Across all four terms, the Lightning held leads at some point in all of them. They never let the Boomers get out to big runs, and kept with them the whole game.
In fact, unlike the games against the Fire and the Flyers, the stats would suggest that the Lightning should have, and could have won.
Adelaide gave up a singular point from turnover – just one. This was despite giving up 11 turnovers to its opposition.
Conversely, the Lightning scored 25 of their 81 points from the Boomers’ turnovers, taking advantage of their poor defensive transition and finding buckets.
Steph Talbot and Isobel Borlase were the main drivers of this, combining for 14 of those points on turnover, while Jacinta Monroe also scored six.Embed from Getty Images
Similarly, the Lightning came up with more opportunities to shoot. They had 76 shots from the field compared to the Boomers’ 67, but shot at 7.7 per cent less.
This would ultimately contribute to their undoing, with the likes of Kierstan Bell (20 per cent) and Lauren Mansfield (27.3 per cent) struggling to get their shots to drop.
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But once again, when the game came down to the wire, the Lightning couldn’t close it out, and gave up their opportunity to claim their first victory.
Marena Whittle set the tone early in the final term and took the lead with a two-point jump shot, with Monroe tying the scores again shortly after.
Then committing multiple turnovers, missing shot after shot, and eventually watching Talbot take to the bench for the last two minutes due to injury, it became too little too late.
The Boomers went on a seven-point run that would ultimately seal the game, as the Lightning just couldn’t take the momentum back and keep up the high pace coach Nat Hurst was so desperate for.
Borlase fought tooth and nail to drag her team over the line though, putting up four shots in those last two minutes for seven points, also making a steal.Embed from Getty Images
Adelaide looks to have uncovered a serious player in the 18-year-old, who is rising as an early contender for the Youth Player of the Year award.
Borlase finished the game with 17 points, four assists and three steals. She’s yet to register a game in the WNBL 2022/23 season without double scoring figures, and was just one rebound short of a double-double in her first outing.
With Talbot possibly missing for the short term, her scoring contributions will be vitally important. The youngster took the most shots of any Lightning player.
Monroe finished with a 13-point, 11 rebound double-double, while Talbot top-scored with 23 points.
On the Boomers’ end, it was a strong redemption after they dropped their Wednesday night encounter with the Southside Flyers on Wednesday night.
Chris Lucas’ team now sits 2-1, with Tess Madgen still to return. Tiff Mitchell was at her brilliant best with 23 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, while Mia Murray hit her trademark long shots late to help ice the game.
Ahead of the league-wide bye, the Lightning will host the Sydney Flames at home on Saturday, November 19. The Boomers will host the UC Capitals on Sunday, November 20.
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