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Big Mac fries Townsville as Perth go 1-0

IMPORT Aari McDonald scored Perth's first basket last night in Townsville and also its last, cementing an 88-87 Game 1 win in their best-of-three WNBL semi final. In between, the dynamic playmaker scored 22 points and dished nine assists, stunning the 2,341 fans at the Firepit.

Amy Atwell also stepped up, her 24 points at 58 percent. Both Atwell and McDonald stroked 4-of-7 threes as the Lynx secured one of the biggest upsets of the season.

When Townsville's Opals star Sami Whitcomb erroneously was awarded three free throws to close the first half after she only appeared to have lost her footing on a late jack-up (Miela Goodchild was in the vicinity ... let's call a foul on her!) the Fire took a 51-44 lead into the break.

Atwell swished a 3-pointer to start the third quarter, Whitcomb scored for 53-47 but from there, Perth seized control.

Emily Potter (14 points at 60 percent, 10 rebounds) at last was finding the basket as the Lynx sprinted off on an 18-1 run for a stunning 65-54 lead, in all an astonishing 21-3 outburst to control the second half's momentum.

Amanda Zahui B hit an unlikely three, then Alice Kunek completed a three-point play as the Fire rallied. Successive threes by McDonald and Steph Gorman took Perth out 71-60 but Steph Reid and Sami Whitcomb with a genuine triple had it back to 65-71 with a period to play.

Atwell opened the fourth by again inflating the Lynx lead, free throws by Potter taking the buffer out to 10 at 77-67.

It was Zahui B and Kunek who once more kick-started the Fire offence before Whitcomb and Zitina Aokuso dragged it back to 78-79, an 11-2 response.

The crowd was into it now and the place went crazy when Whitcomb gave the Fire an 82-81 lead with 4:25 left.

Atwell's free throw tied it and it still was locked at 84-84 until Potter's drive made it 86-84, just over two minutes remaining.

Whitcomb's 3-pointer for an 87-86 Townsville lead was deafening but inside the last minute, McDonald finished where she started the game, beating the Fire defence to post the final scoreline.

PERTH LYNX 88 (McDonald 26, Atwell 24, Potter 14; Potter 10 rebs; McDonald 9 assts) d TOWNSVILLE FIRE 87 (Whitcomb 24, Kunek, Woods 15, Aokuso 13; Aokuso 10 rebs; Reid 5 assts) at Townsville Entertainment Centre. Crowd: 2,341

MELBOURNE tomorrow hosts Game 2 in its semi series with Southside, the Flyers with a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.

Mar 1

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.