An exhausted Melbourne Boomers held on for the win against a resilient Adelaide Lightning, which played on despite the team’s ownership troubles being revealed during the game.
Celebrating Steph Talbot’s 100th WNBL game, the Boomers were able to hold off a second half charge by Lightning star Nia Coffey, winning 84-82 at the State Basketball Centre in front of 2,168 fans.
In her 100th game Talbot had the hot hand early and was keen to give the Boomers an early advantage.
“My teammates are getting me open,” Talbot said. “When you’re wide open it’s a lot easier to relax and knock down the shot. I would have liked to keep it through the second half.”
The Boomers went in to the half time break with a five point lead thanks to the damage done by Talbot and captain Jenna O’Hea. Lauren Nicholson did her best to keep the Lightning in touch with 15 points of her own.
Nia Coffey exploded for 20 points after the break after being held to just five in the first half. She also amassed an incredible 19 rebounds.
“Nina’s just a wonderful athlete,” coach Chris Lucas said describing Coffey’s performance. “She had a super game tonight, she’s a super performer and proved tonight why I recruited her,” he said.
After a quiet first half, import Lindsay Allen then upped her tempo to wrestle the game back the Boomer’s way.
As one of the most entertaining players in the WNBL, Allen sliced open the Lightning defense, almost scorning and setting up teammates at will. And just when it appeared her highlight reel couldn’t get any more flash, she sank a three pointer from downtown at the three-quarter time buzzer.
Finishing with 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, Allen credited the win to a total team effort.
“We all have confidence in each other to make huge plays for the teaming figure out a way for the team to win,” she said. “Jenna had a great game today, making huge shots for us.”
And it was O’Hea who calmly sunk a two pointer with 32 seconds remaining on the clock to give the Boomers the lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
A turnover by Nicholson sent the Boomers the other way and the Lightning failed to foul and slow the clock down. In a frantic final few seconds, O’Hea again stood tall, rebounding and winding the clock down with poise.
Despite news of Adelaide Basketball’s request for new investors breaking during the game, coach Chris Lucan managed to insulate his side, allowing them to focus on the match at hand.
“I made sure that the player’s weren’t aware of it until after the game,” he said. “That was the important thing. The players would have played hard anyway, they’re here to play basketball and they put on a show today that was a great game of women’s basketball and we’re looking forward to the future.”
The Boomers (8-4) will now get a much need break, playing only one game each round for the next five weeks. Next up, they’ll host the Townsville Fire (4-5) next Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, Adelaide (3-6) will make their way back across the border to play the Dandenong Rangers (4-5) on Friday evening.