In a weekend of upsets, the Dandenong Rangers turned in their best performance of the season as they out ran and out hustled the Perth Lynx.
With Kayla Pederson taking home a double-double (21 points, 11 rebounds) and speedster Bec Cole (21 points, 6 assists) on fire, the Rangers flew out of the blocks and never looked back, racing to a 33-24 first quarter lead.
Pederson was the star on both ends, not only giving the Rangers constant second looks on offense (5 offensive rebounds), but also finishing off the good work by her teammates in the back court.
“Feels good to come and have a game like that,” Pederson said. “As a team, just to play really well and to get up and get other people in the game.”
With fellow tall Carley Mijovic (16 points, 7 rebounds) also pulling her weight, the Rangers had their twin towers firing and controlling the game.
It was 10 points each at the six minute mark of the first quarter and that was as close as the Lynx would get, the Rangers’ run and gun attack making for exciting and entertaining basketball. Kayla Steindl had 9 points and Asia Taylor contribute 7 to keep the Lynx from falling behind further, but the Rangers defense was up to the task.
The second quarter would see both teams score 20 plus and the Rangers took a 53-45 lead into the halftime break. Perth was still giving too much on the boards, with Pederson and Mijovic reeling in 13 rebounds between them. Only Britt McPhee was giving the Lynx any take aways.
A 29-8 third quarter gave the Rangers faithful some joy as their girls began taking the ladder leaders apart. Bec Cole was the instigator (9 points, 3 assists) and Pederson, Mijovic and Betnijah Laney (17 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds) piled on to extend the lead.
Asia Taylor was nullified by the Rangers’ Jarry, who used the switch to great effect. Kayla Steindl battled all the way to the end, as did Kate Ebzery, but they just couldn’t overcome the Rangers’ large lead.
“Was pretty disappointing,” Ebzery said. “They came to play and we were just a couple steps off the pace unfortunately, and we end up going down. So disappointing.”
“Just being off the pace, we weren’t executing, we had a few turnovers as well in that first quarter, and that just helped them get off to a great start and we were playing catch up and couldn’t make it back up in the end.”
Perth coach Andy Stewart has a week to fix the slow starts and turnovers that have cost his side so dearly.
“If you look at those turnovers they weren’t pressured,” said Stewart. “They were actually really slack, we got a travel, we threw the ball from the sign, hit the backboard, it was just lack of concentration turnovers which gave them a run.”
Perth attempted to rally in the last but couldn’t make inroads on such a large lead, and Rangers coach Larissa Anderson took the chance to give her bench some game time. Carley Mijovic even got in on the highlight reel, picking Britt McPhee pocket and racing away for the easy lay in to put the icing on the cake for the home team.
“I think in the third quarter particularly they did an amazing job,” Anderson said of her team’s defensive efforts. “We clearly didn’t have any problems scoring in the first half, we really turned a corner offensively together, but up the other end was were they’re just great to watch.”
“I think we made Asia work really hard for her baskets which was pleasing, I think we’ve tended to let them get a few cheapies. Over the last time we played them, very pleased with their job defensively in the second half, in particularly on Taylor.”
“We can be really happy with this result today, but it’s straight to work cause we obviously need to go to Sydney on Friday then back here on Sunday. So two really tough games next weekend to focus on,” Anderson said.
Having moved to 5 wins and 6 loses, the Rangers will play the Sydney Flames (2-11) on Friday evening, before traveling back home to host the Bendigo Spirit (6-8).
While the Perth Lynx, now at 9 wins and 3 loses, will travel to Townsville (5-7) for a Friday evening game, before their Sunday afternoon game against the Canberra Capitals (7-4).