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Chris Pike

Flyers beat Lynx at buzzer to force WNBL decider

Flyers' Nyadiew Puoch, Lou Brown and Klara Wischer enjoying their WNBL grand final game two win. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS)

The Southside Flyers have denied the Perth Lynx a first WNBL championship in 32 years with a Mercedes Russell turnaround jumper to claim game two of the grand final 97-95.

The Flyers were in control for much of game two on Thursday night at Bendat Basketball Centre in Perth, but the Lynx fought to the death attempting to win a first championship since 1992.

Southside led by as much as 15 points, but in the final minute Lynx captain Anneli Maley had two golden opportunities to put them in front for the first time.

Mercedes Russell called game.

See you on Sunday.

— WNBL (@WNBL) March 14, 2024

She missed two free-throws with 35 seconds to go. Then after the Lynx did well to force a stop and turnover, she took the ball hard to the rack but couldn't complete the lay-up.

That kept the scores level and the Flyers had a messy offensive possession, but the loose ball landed in the hands of centre Russell. 

She turned around for the jumper with time expiring and it was nothing but net as Southside won by two for force the deciding game three in Melbourne on Sunday.

The Lynx blew the Flyers away in the opening game on Sunday, making 22-of-38 from behind the three-point arc in the 101-79 win.

The Flyers were never going to allow that to happen again and turned game two into quite the physical grind as they did an especially good job shutting down Amy Atwell (nine points, 4-of-14 shooting) following her nine threes on Sunday.

Southside prevailed despite a tough night for superstar Lauren Jackson, who had five points, nine rebounds and four assists while taking five shots.

The Flyers had plenty of other big contributors, including import Jaz Dickey who stepped up for 19 points.

Bec Cole hit a purple patch with 11 quick points in the second quarter on the way to 18 with Russell finishing with 18 to go with a massive 17 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.

Carley Ernst also had 14 points, Maddy Rocci 14 points and six assists, and Leilani Mitchell nine points and five assists.

"I'm super excited and super proud of the girls to get through and take it back home on Sunday," said Flyers coach Cheryl Chambers.

"Our backs were against the wall and we probably aren't happy that we got up and then they came back, but they're a quality team and we knew they would fight back."

For the second time in three years, the Lynx have dominated a grand final game one before dramatically losing game two at home, and having to go back to Melbourne.

Aari McDonald was a standout again with 26 points and eight assists with experienced guard Alex Ciabattoni crucial with 16 points.

"Basketball sucks, but first and foremost credit to Southside. They were terrific in the first half in particular," said Lynx coach Ryan Petrik.

"When we finally engaged in the third quarter, they still made really timely and big shots, and then the play at the end was all class. Hats off to Southside, they were terrific, and we have to be much, much better."

Emily Potter battled the three Flyers bigs with 16 points and six boards while Maley had 17 rebounds, and Miela Goodchild 14 points.

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