Fire sweep Perth to storm into WNBL grand final

Red-hot Townsville Fire have advanced to the WNBL grand final on a 14-game winning streak after completing a 2-0 semi-final series sweep of Perth Lynx with a 91-84 win at the Bendat Basketball Centre.

The Fire looked in total control when they led by 16 points just after halftime on Sunday before staving off a spirited Lynx fightback.

Star import Tianna Hawkins (23 points) was all class, captain Lauren Nicholson (15) laid the early foundation and late-season recruit Shyla Heal (15) dominated the fourth quarter.

Perth skipper Sami Whitcomb (26 points) valiantly threw everything at Townsville, as did teammates Chloe Bibby (18), Lauren Scherf (13) and Robbi Ryan (13).

On the comeback trail from a foot injury, Nicholson caught fire with 13 first-quarter points, including three triples from her first three shots, to put Townsville in front 27-22 at the first break.

It was then Hawkins' turn to take over, the American forward pouring in 12 second-quarter points to extend Fire's cushion to 53-43 at halftime.

The Lynx's first-half defence was underwhelming, while they also conceded too many turnovers and offensive boards.

Game One matchwinner Steph Reid started the third term with back-to-back three-pointers to extend Townsville's lead to 59-43 before Perth fashioned a stinging rearguard.

Behind Bibby's perimeter shooting, Whitcomb's playmaking and Ryan's inspirational defence, the home side went on a 13-0 tear amid an 18-2 overall run to slice the gap to one point.

Ryan's trey early in the fourth then gave the Lynx the lead, before Heal responded spectacularly.

The talented reserve point guard, enticed from the Sydney Flames just in time to be eligible for Townsville's finals campaign, got right under Perth's guard, scoring 12 of her 15 points after three-quarter-time to seal the Fire's second grand final berth in three seasons.

The best-of-three series will start on Saturday at the Townsville Entertainment Centre, with the Fire to face the winner of Wednesday's semi-final decider between Southside and Melbourne.