The Melbourne Boomers celebrated their Dads and Daughters Day as a proud David Garrick watched his daughter Maddy put on an early show, then saw her help douse a late Townsville Fire charge.
Garrick (15 points, 5 rebounds), Steph Talbot (16 points) and Opals centre Cayla George (11 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists) all stepped up in the 73-67 win.
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Shooting 53% from inside the arc, the Boomers (9-4) now rise to second place on the WNBL ladder. Townsville captain Suzy Batkovic, who in her previous game became the WNBL’s all time leading scorer, had been suffering neck and nerve issues leading into the game.
After a tight tussle with George in those opening minutes, Batkovic headed to the bench and would not return, as pain in her neck and shoulder intensified.
“Yesterday I was in the wars all day,” she said. “It’s flared up after the game we played at home and then the travel. The travel day was really tough with my arm.”
“It is what it is, I’m just hoping we can get it resolved really quickly.”
With Batkovic out for the remainder of the game, Townsville coach Claudia Brassard called on youngster Zitina Aokuso to step up and take on Goerge the rest of the way.
“She’s tough,” said George. “She’s got some great moves, she’s very athletic, she’s got a lot of years ahead of her in this league so it’s going to be exciting to see how she progresses.”
Boomers guard Lindsay Allen was accounted for by her Townsville counterpart Michaela Cocks, and it was Garrick who stepped up in the first quarter to get the Boomers going.
Garrick would have 10 points in that opening stanza, going two from two at the perimeter, and continuing her strong three point shooting.
Midway through the third term, the Boomers extended their leadto 18 points, and it looked like the Fire were out on their feet.
Steph Talbot took over from Garrick, shaking free from a close checking Tess Madgen to score seven points and open up the floor for the Boomers.
Kalani Purcell was making the most of her minutes on court and seemed to be constantly involved in the run of play.
Then came a fourth-quarter run by the Fire where they outscored the Boomers 19-8, with Ally Malott (17 points, 3 rebounds), Cocks (12 points) and Aokuso (12 points, 10 rebounds) all finishing strong.
“We’re a bit inconsistent over 40 minutes,” said Cocks. “We’re a bit patchy, we just didn’t put 40 minutes of good basketball together which is why we didn’t come out with the win.”
“They have so many threats in their team, you shut one down other people step up.”
The Boomers would hold on in the end to win by six points but the game would finish with a laugh as Jenna O’Hea took sliding in to help a teammate to new levels.
— SBS Sport (@SBSSport) December 3, 2018
The Boomers will look ahead to a more friendly schedule, playing just one game per week for the next five rounds, starting with Sydney next Saturday afternoon. Townsville will return home for a Friday night clash against a resurgent Adelaide Lightning.