The Cockburn Cougars scored their biggest win of the NBL1 West season on Saturday night at home to the Perth Redbacks with Sarah Mortensen unstoppable as they moved further clear in first place.
The Cougars were back to Wally Hagan Stadium on Saturday after suffering a first loss of the season last Friday night to the Mandurah Magic before bouncing back well to beat the Perry Lakes Hawks 24 hours later by 39 points.
Cockburn raced out to a 19-point lead already by quarter-time and never let up. The Cougars produced another 32 points to 13 in the second period to go into half-time in control 64-26.
The Cougars then put up 37 points in the fourth quarter to ram home their advantage to lead by as much as 71 points before winning 124-55 in what is their biggest victory of the season.
The win improves Cockburn to a 15-1 record and with the Joondalup Wolves losing at the same time on Saturday night, the Cougars are two games clear in top spot with three rounds and four matches remaining.
Danish import Sarah Mortensen produced her best game of the season and that’s already after she’s been in some remarkable form. She finished with 42 points, 13 rebounds, five steals and two assists on 17/23 shooting from the field and 6/7 from three-point territory.
Jewel Williams added 21 points and six assists, Steph Gorman 16 points, six assists and four rebounds, Jessie Edwards 16 points, four boards and two assists, and Harriet Ford 11 points and five rebounds.
By scoring 124 points while shooting 54.4 per cent from the floor along with 15/30 from downtown and taking care of the ball with just seven turnovers, and winning the rebound battle, there was lots that Cockburn did for coach Tyrone Thwaites to like.
The Cougars also limited the Redbacks to just 55 points on 37.0 per cent shooting with 2/10 from behind the arc and a massive 32 turnovers for the game, so Thwaites was full of praise for his team’s effort.
“We got plenty out of it. There was a bunch of things we wanted to get done and we got each of those ticked off which is nice. It was all about if we were going to win, to do it the right way, and I think we did that too,” Thwaites said.
“We got the right spread of minutes into people, it was about making sure our form’s ready because the playoffs arrive in four weeks’ time.”
While there are some Cougars players dealing with sore bodies right now late in the season, one player who they perhaps want on the court more than anyone is newly arrived import forward Patty Brossmann.
However, a back complaint stopped her being able to play on Saturday night and it might not be the only game she misses in the run home, but for Thwaites the focus is on having her ready for when it matters most.
“I suspect she’ll be back this weekend but we’ll still manage her between now and the end of the year,” he said.
“As much as we want her to play every single game, I don’t think that will happen between now and the end of the season. So it’s really about having her right for playoffs but I would suspect she’ll play this week.”
It was a phenomenal display from Mortensen as she continues to show just what a brilliant all-round performer she is not only with the 42 points and six three-pointers, but still pulling down 13 rebounds, stealing it five times and dishing out two assists.
She’s having the type of season that should have her right in both the MVP and All-First Team discussions and while Thwaites had faith in what she could provide, she’s surpassed all those expectations.
“You never really know what you’re going to get with an import. You can do all the due diligence in the world but there’s still an element of luck that comes with that, and we’ve certainly been very lucky with her both culturally and as an athlete,” Thwaites said.
“She’s been phenomenal and just has the right attitude. For the first eight or nine weeks of the year she wasn’t shooting the ball well and she’s a shooter, but her mindset has never wavered.
“Over the last month she’s gone well and truly over 40 per cent from the perimeter and it’s really ticking up now. Hopefully that’s a worry for other teams when she’s ticking as well as she is at the moment.”
While Mortensen has proven herself a star in the NBL1 West this season, she has potentially plenty of options of where her new home will be after this season with the Cougars, and Thwaites has no doubt she’d fit in either in the WNBL or WNBA if a chance presented.
“She’s well and truly capable of playing WNBL. We know there’s been interest and I’d be very surprised if that interest doesn’t continue and eventuate with a contract,” Thwaites said.
“We hope for her that it certainly does but you never really truly know with these things. We’d love to see Sarah go on and be successful whether that be at WNBA level or elsewhere but she’s a special talent that’s for sure.”