Strong pair of home wins for Cougars over Lightning

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It was a Saturday night to savour at Wally Hagan Stadium for the Cockburn Cougars with the Women draining 22 three-pointers and Gavin Field hitting 10 of his own for the Men in victories against the Lakeside Lightning.

The Cougars were at home to the Lakeside Lightning on Saturday evening at Wally Hagan Stadium in Round 11 of the NBL1 West season, and it was a night to remember for both Cockburn teams.

The evening got underway with the Cougars Women shooting 22/53 from beyond the three-point line to beat the Lightning 108-87. Field then went for 35 points with the Cockburn Men defeating Lakeside 104-94.

Starting with the Women’s contest, Cockburn had lost its past two matches to the Joondalup Wolves and Mandurah Magic to have dropped from top four of the standings, and returned to Wally Hagan Stadium to host the Lightning determined to bounce back.

The Cockburn focus on shooting from the three-point arc soon became obvious and it was starting to pay dividends especially with Alina Hartmann scoring all 18 of her points in the first half with four triples to help them to a 54-44 half-time edge.

The three balls kept firing and by the end of the evening guards Jewel Williams and Kat Tudor had attempted 32 of them on their own.

Williams ended up knocking down 7/18 and Tudor 6/14 but when Tudor knocked down four of them in quick succession, the Cougars blew the game wide open and eventually cruised to the 108-87 victory against the Lightning.

Cougars coach Tyrone Thwaites wants his team to use her three-point shooting strength.

“It’s something that we’re starting to develop a reputation for now. We take more threes than anyone in the competition and I think we’re going at nearly 40 a game now,” Thwaites said.

“It’s not just about getting them up, its equally about how we are getting our shots, and our commitment to our rebounding rules and transition defence from the moment we shoot it.

“Every coach I speak to looks at us as an offensive team and we obviously need to improve on the other side of the ball to develop a bit of a reputation there.

“But certainly the ball fell for us a fair bit for us on Saturday night and we felt partly that was because we went back to how we wanted to play.

“We did also find ourselves open a lot more than we probably anticipated and it just so happened that Jewel Williams, Kat Tudor and Alina Hartmann took full advantage of that.”

Cockburn took 89 field goals for the match and 53 of those were from beyond the three-point arc. They knocked down 22 of them and shot at a terrific 41.5 per cent on the way to the crucial win to see them improve to a 7-4 record.

The Cougars also collected 54 rebounds to 44 from the Lightning, and while they took 17 more field goals, the Lightning did shoot 30 free-throws for the game to eight.

Jewel Williams finished with 32 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Cockburn with Kat Tudor contributing 20 points and nine boards, Alina Hartmann 18 points and five rebounds, Jessie Edwards 15 points and 10 boards, Ella Summers eight points and four rebounds, and Haylee De Sousa eight points and four assists.

Coach Thwaites was relieved afterwards to get the win.

“We’re probably feeling relieved more than anything after two weeks of probably below par performances by our standards,” Thwaites said.

“Obviously we’ve played two very good teams in Joondalup and Mandurah at the opposite ends of Perth, but to come back home against a good Lakeside team and getting back to playing how we want to play, and start to up the tempo, which we hadn’t done too much of so far this year, was very nice.”

It was another standout performance from Williams who continues to shine in her first season with the Cougars having played the first 88 games of her career with the Kalamunda Eastern Suns.

She is finding the balance nicely with passing and shooting, and Thwaites likes the way she is settling in with Cockburn.

“It’s taken a little while for Jewel to adapt partly because we’re playing a different style to what she’s played previously,” Thwaites said.

“That’s up to each coach who obviously coaches her a little bit differently, but we did have plans to play her off the ball a little bit more this year in a combo role but unfortunately our point guard stocks are a little bit thin at the moment.

“We’ve probably played her at the point more than we planned to be honest, but she’s been excellent.

“She’s adapted to the system, it plays to her strengths, and she’s always been an outstanding passer of the ball, but in her career so far hasn’t really had to distribute as much as we’ve asked of her this year.

“She’s leading the league in assists at the moment because she’s finding herself in situations where she thrives, especially the pick-and-roll. She’s finding people and if they aren’t guarding her properly she’s also knocking shots down herself.”

Then in Saturday night’s Men’s match up, the Cougars were back home to host the Lightning with Cockburn on a good run of form having won three of the last four, and the one they did lose on the road to Joondalup was a missed golden opportunity.

The Lightning might have won just two of 11 games so far this season but are a more dangerous team than that suggests, and it was a tight contest in the opening term.

The Cougars did open up an early nine-point edge but the Lightning fired back and Cockburn was only narrowly up 27-26 by the end of one.

It was still just a two-point Cougars lead by half-time but with Gavin Field on his way to one of the best shooting games of his 285-game career, the home team began to pull away in the third quarter.

Cockburn put up 31 points to 23 in the third period and they were up by 14 points during the fourth, and went on to secure the 104-94 victory.

The result improves the Cougars to an 8-5 record on the season to remain in touch with a top four.

Gavin Field ended up nailing 10/16 from beyond the three-point arc on his way to 35 points to go with six rebounds and three assists.

Carter Skaggs contributed 21 points and five rebounds for the Cougars, Seva Chan 14 points and eight assists, Josh Hunt 10 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals, and Paschal Chukwu eight points, four rebounds and two blocked shots.