The Melbourne Vixens have set up a midweek top-of-the-ladder clash against the West Coast Fever after a thrilling 66-63 extra-time win over the Giants in Sydney.
- Mwai Kumwenda slotted 50 goals from as many attempts for the Vixens
- The Fever defeated the Lightning 74-65
- They play the Vixens in Perth on Tuesday night
The Vixens’ win kept them second on percentage behind the Fever, who earlier on Saturday defeated the struggling Lightning 74-65 on the Sunshine Coast.
The Fever will host the Vixens in Perth on Tuesday.
The Giants trailed by 11 points in the second and third quarters at Ken Rosewall Arena, but sensational two-point shooting from youngster Matisse Letherbarrow kept them in the game.
The 20-year-old, who came on late in the second quarter for captain Jo Harten, showed nerves of steel.
She made eight of her first nine super shots as the Giants surged to a 60-57 lead with just over three minutes to go.
The Vixens scored the last three points, with former Giant Kiera Austin levelling the game with her team’s only successful two-point attempt.
The teams traded the first six goals of the extra-time period before Melbourne’s Mwai Kumwenda completed a superb individual effort by scoring the last three of the match to finish with 50 goals from as many attempts.
Captain and centre Liz Watson was a huge contributor to the Vixens win, notching 28 goal assists and 46 feeds in an influential effort.
With just one win separating third from eighth, the loss could be significant for the fourth-placed Giants, whose next two matches are away in Tasmania and Perth.
Fowler shines for Fever
Jamaican Jhaniele Fowler produced another prodigious and almost perfect shooting display to help the Fever consolidated top spot on the ladder.
The Fever’s third straight victory left the Lightning in serious danger of missing the finals for the first time.
The competition’s leading scorer, Fowler made all 66 of her conventional shots and her only miss of the night was with her final attempt, which was from two-point range.
A 22-11 second quarter tilted the match in the visiting Fever’s favour after they trailed by two early in the term.
West Coast led by as many as 12 in the third period and did a better job of controlling possession and forcing the Lightning into errors.
They tallied three more intercepts, five more gains and had seven less general play turnovers.
While Fowler proved unstoppable offensively and the Lightning could no restrict her supply, Courtney Bruce was influential at the other end.
Bruce gathered five intercepts, nine gains and 10 deflections.
The Lightning trailed by five early, but captain and goal attack Steph Wood dragged her side back into the contest with three super shots, as the home team led 19-18 at quarter-time.
Fowler scored eight goals to the Lightning’s one early in the second quarter as the visitors regained control and never relinquished the lead.
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