The Global Metals Bulleen Boomers have overcome a 19-point deficit early in their semi-final showdown with bitter rival Canberra TransACT Capitals at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre on Saturday, to snatch the critical 71-67 win, booking a place in the 2010/11 iiNet WNBL Grand Final in a fortnight’s time.
For Bulleen, rising star Liz Cambage was a dominant presence inside, finishing with a game high 29 points. Hanna Zavecz was also a solid performer for the Boomers, she added 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Elyse Penaluna delivered 13 crucial points to go with eight rebounds in the big win.
For the visiting Capitals, Jessica Bibby was hot from range — she finished with 22 points, drilling five of seven from beyond the arc. Nicole Hunt had a great game also at the point spot — she finished with 14 points and four assists, while Carly Wilson and Marianna Tolo both had 12 points for the game.
The Capitals came out of the gates the aggressor, playing a close-knit, physical brand of defense at one end of the floor, while attacking the basket at the other. Michelle Cosier, Carly Wilson and Nicole Hunt were all shooting the ball well early as Jess Bibby too was starting to find the hot hand.
Bulleen meanwhile, struggled to get into any kind of offensive rhythm. Cambage was working hard but seemed bothered by the gritty defense of opposing big and fellow Australian Opal, Marianna Tolo. She finished the first term with four points.
Other than playmaker Sharin Milner, who nailed a couple of tough first-quarter buckets, the Boomers had few others helping on the scoreboard.
Canberra took a 25-12 lead into the first quarter as Bulleen coach Tom Maher sought about stemming the flow.
Bulleen began to settle in the second term, as Liz Cambage started to assert herself inside. She was also getting some additional help offensively as well — the likes of Desi Glaubitz, Elyse Penaluna and Rachel Jarry making timely contributions.
Bulleen slowly trimmed Canberra’s lead, but the Capitals showed grit and continued to hold Bulleen at arm’s length, much of which had to do with the fine shooting of Jessica Bibby. She ignited in the second term, delivering 10 points as Canberra went into the change-rooms ahead by eight.
Bulleen improved defensively in the third term, picking up a number of stops thanks to some hard work and heavy rebounding by the likes of Penaluna and Cambage. Liz too was growing with confidence offensively, the side rallying around her.
But Canberra’s nerve again remained and it was the guards who protected the lead. Point guard Nicole Hunt dropped 10 points for the term, including two monster threes at the top and tail of the quarter, the lead remaining unchanged going into the last term.
The forth quarter was an arm wrestle and foul trouble was threatening to have a bearing on the outcome for both sides.
Bulleen’s Liz Cambage picked up her fourth foul mid-way through the last term, but when Carly Wilson and Marianna Tolo both claimed theirs it became a question of who could stay out on the floor the longest.
Tolo was the first to depart, picking up her fifth following a strong drive from Cambage. The resulting three-point play set Cambage alight. Without Tolo on the floor defensively, Cambage couldn’t be stopped as she proved why she is one of the most sort-after basketballers on the planet, dropping an astonishing nine points in the final 1.58 of the game to bring her tally up to 29.
She iced the game with a pair of free-throws with four seconds left on the clock and let out a scream of relief as the final buzzer sounded.
The win seals a home Grand Final for the Boomers and a week off. For Canberra, the loss sends them into next Saturday afternoon’s do-or-die play-off with the winner of tomorrow’s Bendigo Bank Spirit and BDS Logan Thunder showdown from Bendigo Stadium.
Global Metals Bulleen Boomers 71 (Liz Cambage 29, Hanna Zavecz 14, Elyse Penaluna 13) defeated Canberra TransACT Capitals 67 (Jessica Bibby 22, Nicole Hunt 14, Carly Wilson 12, Marianna Tolo 12)