Adelaide defend their lead
Adelaide coach Vicki Valk was delighted by her WNBL ladder-leading team's defensive shutdown of Christchurch on Sunday, while her counterpart in Sydney was looking for an upgrade in that department.
Adelaide (8-3) consolidated top spot with an 82-63 home win over Christchurch (4-9), despite making just 34 per cent of their field goal attempts.
"What we were most happy with is we kept a team in the 60s defensively, that was a target for us today," Valk said.
"I think we had one of our worst shooting games today, but that doesn't matter if you keep the other team in the 60s, but we still got 82 points and 29 offensive rebounds, so that was good."
Opals guard Erin Phillips topscored for Adelaide with 17, despite only playing just under 21 minutes because of a virus.
Lightning remained ahead of Sydney (9-4) who narrowly avoided a fifth loss in their last seven games, with a remarkable come from behind 95-93 overtime away win over Townsville (6-6).
The Flames trailed by 19 halfway through the third quarter and were down by 10 with under two minutes remaining.
Sydney were again well served by their two leading scorers with guard Alicia Poto notching 30 and forward Natalie Porter 29, despite the latter still not having fully shaken off an ankle problem.
Flames coach Karen Dalton attributed the second-half fightback to improved defence.
"That's really the key to us this year, the defensive end. I don't think defensively we are where we need to be at the moment," Dalton said.
"We are pretty much an offensively-orientated team, I think it's something that we've really focused on the last couple of weeks in understanding that if we don't come to play defence, we're going to get bitten."
Canberra (7-4) retained third spot with a 79-64 home win over Dandenong (5-7).
The Rangers hit back to score a 81-57 win over Bendigo (6-6) at Traralgon, where they restricted the Spirit to just field goal and three points in the third quarter.
AIS (5-7) moved closer to finals contention by recording an excellent double.
Cayla Francis scored 34 points in Friday's 87-83 home victory over Christchurch and was also prominent in Sunday's 92-81 away win over Perth (3-7).
Francis tallied 15 points and 18 rebounds against Perth, but played second fiddle on the offensive end to a 33-point haul by team-mate Marianna Tolo.
The loss completed a miserable round for Perth, which lost 73-58 away to Bulleen (5-5).
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