Townsville beat Perth to take 1-0 lead in WNBL semis
Minor premiers Townsville Fire have stifled the three-part shooting threat of Perth to record their 13th straight WNBL win and take a 1-0 lead in their best-of three semi-final series.
Lynx captain Sami Whitcomb scored the first five points of the game, but that was Perth's biggest advantage and Townsville controlled the game for most of the second half on their way to an 81-68 victory.
Livewire guard Steph Reid sparked Townsville with a game-high 24 points, shooting at 66 per cent from the field.
Late season recruit Shyla Heal ignited the Fire off the bench with 14 points including the first five of the second quarter which swelled a two-point quarter-time lead.
Townsville broke open a previously close game, scoring the last 11 points of the first half to lead 48-37.
Perth had a disastrous last few seconds of the half
They trailed by six with six seconds to go, but Tayah Burrow committed an unsportsmanlike foul on Karlie Samuelson, who made two free throws and then nailed a long distance three-pointer on the buzzer.
Townsville's lead never dipped below six points in the second half, with Samuelson contributing 13 points, Tianna Hawkins 11 and veteran Mikaela Ruef plundering 12 rebounds.
Lynx captain Whitcomb kept her side in the game with 22 points, but lacked consistent offensive support apart from centre Lauren Scherf who battled hard, tallying 18 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Forward Chloe Bibby, who averages 16 points a game, was held to two points, both from the free-throw line, where Perth made all 17 of their attempts.
Perth committed eight more turnovers and were held to a score 20 points below their season average as they couldn't get their running game going or their normally effective three-point shooting.
They made just one of 15 three-point attempts and went the best part of the last 28 minutes without nailing one, after their only successful shot just over two minutes into the second quarter.
"We know how well they shoot the ball and we have to guard the three-point line to be able to beat them, so I thought we did that pretty well," Fire coach and newly-crowned coach of the year Shannon Seebohm told Fox Sports.
"I expect them to shoot better when we go back to Perth so we need to go up another notch as well.
"Perth are a great team, probably the best offensive team In the league, so there's probably a few areas we need to be a bit better going into Perth, but all in all to hold them under 70 points, really happy with that."
Game two will be played in Perth on Sunday.