Nicholson sparks Fire to WNBL victory

Ed Jackson
·2-min read

Marquee recruit Lauren Nicholson has steered Townsville to their second WNBL victory inside 24 hours, scoring 24 points in Sunday's 87-75 win over Melbourne.

The Opals guard, who also picked up six assists and five rebounds, was outstanding for the Fire as they backed up Saturday's win over Bendigo to move to a 4-2 record.

Teenager Shyla Heal, who scored 22 points in the win over the Spirit on Saturday, finished the game with 19 points including two big three-pointers in the final quarter.

Having been slow out of the blocks against the Spirit before claiming a 91-81 win, the Fire made a fast start against the Boomers at Townsville Stadium as they raced to a 14-3 lead.

Townsville hit four from four outside the three-point arc in the opening quarter, extending their nine-point lead at the first break to 15 midway through the second term.

"Bendigo were really tough against us yesterday, we didn't match their intensity and that's what we challenged them with today," Fire coach Shannon Seebohm told the ABC.

"We saw it turn around and just really proud of their efforts.

"We've shown that if we play the way we want to play consistently, we can compete with the top teams in this league."

The Boomers welcomed back former Fire player Tess Madgen after she'd been sidelined for the past two games with an ankle injury.

It was Madgen who sparked a late second quarter rally by the Boomers, nailing a three-pointer right on halftime to reduce the deficit to just four points at the main break.

Melbourne came within two points early in the third quarter but that was as close as they would get, with the Fire's 54 per cent from the field enough to earn them the win despite the Boomers hitting 30 shots to the Fire's 29.

Townsville's 18 from 22 from the free-throw line proved crucial, with Melbourne only scoring six points from the stripe.

Madgen finished the game with nine assists while forward Eziyoda Magbegor led the way for the Boomers with 20 points despite hitting foul trouble in the fourth quarter.

The defeat is the Boomers' second in a row after starting their season with three straight victories and allowed the Fire to leapfrog them in the standings.

The competition continues on Monday with a rematch of last season's grand final between the University of Canberra Capitals and Southside Flyers.

The Flyers head into the match on the back of a comfortable 117-71 win over Perth on Saturday with superstar Liz Cambage scoring 21 points in just 16 minutes.

The Capitals meanwhile also moved to a 4-1 record after overcoming a slow start to defeat the Sydney Uni Flames on Saturday 68-63.