Atwell leads Lynx blitz in WNBL grand final opener

Adrian Warren |

Amy Atwell has led Perth to a 22-point win over Southside in game one of the WNBL final series.
Amy Atwell has led Perth to a 22-point win over Southside in game one of the WNBL final series.

A scintillating shooting performance headlined by Amy Atwelll has powered Perth Lynx to a crushing 101-79 win over over Southside Flyers in game one of the WNBL grand final series in Melbourne.

Atwell made nine three-pointers, seven in the first half, connecting at 64 per cent from beyond the arc in a 30-point haul.

Perth had 60 on the board by halftime, leading by 10, 23 and 29 at the breaks and by as much as 31 in the final quarter.

Their deadly perimeter shooting and slick transition game was too hot for Southside and their zone defence, as the Flyers struggled to get their half court offence going.

Southside struggled from the start, with Lynx scoring the first nine points as their rivals took three-and-a-half minutes and seven field goal attempts to register their opening score.

Perth, who eliminated defending champions and minor premiers Townsville in straight games after scraping into the semi-finals, hit 22 out of 38 three-points attempts, making seven more shots than they did from two-point range.

Atwell was well supported by. Anneli Maley (15 points and eight rebounds), Aari McDonald (15 points and 10 assists) and Alex Ciabatttoni, who scored 12 off the bench.

“Everyone knows we want to run and shoot lots of threes,” Atwell told ESPN.

“But I think our kryptonite all year has been the defensive end and I think it’s finals time, everyone is going  to lock in more and I’m really super proud of the girls for locking in on the scout, and getting it done on the defensive end.”

Perth can clinch only their second WNBL title and their first since 1992 in game two at home on Thursday.

Southside must win to force a decider in Melbourne next Sunday and to avoid the ignominy of a third grand final series loss in four appearances over the past five seasons.

Veteran big Lauren Jackson was the only consistent offensive threat for Southside, landing five of her six three-point tries in her team-high 21-point haul.

Carley Ernst (13) and Mercedes Russell (12 ) were the only other double digit scorers for Southside.

Jackson hit three successive long bombs at the start of the last to cut the gap to 20, but an 11-0 Perth run quickly silenced the home crowd.

“Embarrassing to say the least. I feel like we just did not bring that championship energy or that championship mindset,” Southside captain Bec Cole told ESPN..

“From the get go we were just on the back foot and we tried, but I don’t think we tried hard enough.”

AAP