By Lauren Rosenberg
After dropping Game 1 of the semi-finals to the Canberra Capitals, the Melbourne Boomers returned home to a win or go home matchup in the WNBL semifinals.
The Boomers started the game off with a two-point jump shot from Sophie Cunningham, followed by Ezi Magbegor splitting her free-throws.
Both teams went on small cold streaks, not being able to sink any shots, until the Capitals tied the game up three all with. Lindsay Allen followed with a three of her own and drove to the basket for a layup to give the Boomers an 8-5 lead.
Magbedor followed with an electric alley-oop from Cayla George to extend the Boomer lead, 10-5.
After a 2:36 scoring drought, Olivia Epoupa split her free-throws to cut the deficit to six. After Allen missed a jumper, Maddison Rocci cut the deficit to three by draining a shot from beyond-the-arc, but George responded with a floater followed by a layup from Allen to extend the Boomers lead to five with a score of 14-9.
Keely Froling ended the first period with a layup to cut the Boomers lead to five with a score of 23-18.
Canberra looked to start the second period on a hot start, but Kelsey Griffin missed a jumper. Penina Davidson grabbed the rebound which eventually led to Maddie Garrick draining a three-pointer.
Griffin drained two free-throws to attempt to start the Capitals off hot, but the Boomers weren’t going to allow that to happen.
Magbegor sank a layup, Davidson had a huge block on the other end, Allen drained a layup, George had a steal and Garrick drained a step-back three to give Melbourne a 33-19 lead.
After a 2:09 scoring drought and a 7-0 Boomer run, Epoupa drained a jumper to stop the run.
Purcell extended Melbourne’s lead to 16 but Epoupa once again drove for a layup to cut the lead to 14 with a score of 37-23.
The Boomers turned the ball over a few times, and the Capitals capitalized on the opportunities.
Tolo drained a layup and Nurse drained a three to cut the Boomer lead to 11, but Allen brought the lead back up to 13 on a jumper bringing the score to 43-30.
Tolo ended the period by scoring the final points with a layup.
Melbourne had a few opportunities to extend the lead after a Stella Beck steal, but Magbegor couldn’t drain the potential buzzer beating three.
Despite the miss, the Boomers went into halftime with a comfortable 15 point lead by a score of 49-34.
Magbegor started off the second half with a layup directly followed by one from Epoupa.
Griffin and Epoupa alternated layups until Cunningham drained a jumper to bring the score to 53-40.
After a cold streak from both teams, Epoupa broke it with a layup, but Cunningham responded with a jumper, assisted by Davidson, bringing the score 56-42.
Allen pulled up for a jumper and drew the foul. She converted the and-one opportunity but Griffin responded with a turn-around jumper with seven seconds left in the third period. Despite that jumper, Melbourne still held a comfortable 14 point lead, heading into the fourth period with a score of 64-50.
Garrick started the fourth period for the Boomers with a layup. Rocci followed by draining a three for Canberra, but Garrick continued her mini hot streak and nailed a turn-around jumper to bring the score 68-53.
Melbourne went on a 7-5 run with George and Allen draining jumpers and Kalani Purcell driving into the lane. Tolo and Nurse drained a two and three respectively.
George went coast-to-coast on a steal and layin to bring the Boomer lead to 18 with a score of 80-62.
Nurse followed with a jumper and then going coast-to-coast off of a Purcell turnover to cut the Melbourne lead to 14.
After Purcell missed a three, she blocks a Rocci layup attempt. Shortly after, Garrick blocks Nurse’s three point attempt.
George drained a three on the other side, followed by Griffin sinking a fadeaway jumper.
Beck and Griffin alternated threes and Shakera Reilly made a layup, but it was a lost cause for the Capitals as the Boomers took Game 2 of the semi-finals with a final score of 88-76, forcing a win or go home Game 3.
Top performers for the Capitals:
Olivia Epoupa: 13 points, 2 steals
Kia Nurse: 17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals
Marianna Tolo: 14 points
Kelsey Griffin: 17 points, 7 rebounds
Top performers for the Boomers:
Ezi Magbegor: 17 points, 9 rebounds, 3 steals, 4 blocks
Lindsay Allen: 25 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal
Cayla George: 13 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals
Maddie Garrick: 17 points, 8 rebounds
Canberra will host Melbourne in the deciding Game 3 of the semi-finals on Feb. 26
Edited by Emma Moloney | email@example.com