In the inaugural SSN Inclusion Round, the Vixens claimed a stunning 74-73 victory over ladder leaders the West Coast Fever.
On a chilly day in Melbourne in front of another 7,000-plus crowd at John Cain Arena, the Vixens came out firing against the reigning champions. The home side took an early lead in co-captain Kate Moloney’s record 150th national league game and a buzzer beater super shot from player of the match Kiera Austin saw them claim the win.
Q1 | Vixens 18-16 Fever
It was goal-for-goal early, with outstanding defensive pressure forcing some turnovers in the Fever attack line. A bit of Kate Eddy (2 intercepts, 2 deflections) magic gave us a narrow lead and we consolidated it with some scrappy defensive work and clean transition. Austin (129.5 Net Points, 1 intercept, 3 deflections) was in everything at Fever’s attacking transverse line making their transition play difficult. We led by as much as five before the super shot period and took a 2-goal lead into the first break despite a couple of super shots from Sasha Glasgow eating into the margin.
Q2 | Vixens 37-35 Fever
The physicality stepped up a notch in the second term, an at-times bruising contest seeing bodies hit the court at both ends. Our midcourt pressure was proving tough to combat, holding up the Fever’s transition but they continued to find powerhouse Jhaniele Fowler under the post despite the best efforts of Liv Lewis (1 intercept, 1 deflection) in the air and workhorse Jo Weston out the front. The 2-goal margin remained well into the quarter, neither side able to break through; Fever drew level in the super shot period, Glasgow again keeping her side in touch, before a super shot from MJ Kumwenda (47/52) in the dying seconds restored our lead to two at the main break.
Q3 | Vixens 53-54 Fever
Momentum seesawed in the third, Fever taking the lead but unable to pull away care of some composed shooting and relentless defensive pressure from the Vixens through the midcourt. 150-gamer Moloney (19 feeds, 1 intercept) was outstanding, her consistent movement and steady drives creating space for an in-form Liz Watson (25 feeds, 17 centre pass receives) who delivered precision feeds to Kumwenda and Austin in a crowded circle. Fever pushed the lead out to three with under 30 seconds left, and in what’s becoming a trademark move, Kumwenda hit another super shot on the buzzer to bring it back to one with 15 minutes to play.
Q4 | Vixens 74-73 Fever
We hit the lead just before the final super shot period and continued a steady approach, building it out to three with four minutes left. Two super shots from Fowler drew Fever back to level with two minutes to go and the seesawing continued. An incredible defensive effort from Austin on the defensive transverse forced a crucial turnover, but Fever won it back and managed to get back in front by one with under a minute to go. It took another back and forth, with both sides leaving everything out there, before a penalty with a few seconds left gave Austin the chance to sink a final super shot and claim a remarkable win for her side.
THE COACH SAYS
Simone credited the win to our exceptional full-court defensive effort. When asked how we sustained numerous momentum shifts, she stated “from our attack line through to the back line our defensive pressure was brilliant … and we were close to 100 per cent on our centre pass conversion in the last quarter, which was super important."
The Vixens head to UniSC Stadium on Gubbi Gubbi Country to take on the Sunshine Coast Lightning on Sunday 14 May at 2pm.
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