The Townsville Fire are one win away from a third WNBL championship in four years after defeating the Melbourne Boomers 69-64 in the opening game of the grand final series on Saturday night.
The home side broke open a tight contest by outscoring Melbourne 17-10 in the third quarter and finished the job in the final term in front of a packed house at Townsville Stadium
The Boomers closed the gap to one point early in the fourth quarter but could not find a third scoring option beyond Liz Cambage and Jenna O'Hea and could only connect on 3-of-23 shots from long range.
Townsville captain Suzy Batkovic recovered from a slow start to lead the Fire with 16 points and 15 rebounds while American import Sydney Wiese was damaging from the perimeter, hitting four three-pointers on her way to 14 points.
Cayla George finished with a double-double (13 points, 10 boards) and hit a clutch three-pointer in the final two minutes to put the result beyond doubt.
Cambage produced a stellar performance at both ends of the floor to tally 26 points with 13 rebounds and four blocks while O'Hea added nine points, 10 boards, four assists and three steals.
The visitors scored the first six points of the game through Brittany Smart and Cambage before George reeled off five quick points and Wiese's first three-pointer gave the home side their first lead.
The Boomers kept in touch with O'Hea directing the offence but the Fire took a 21-20 first-quarter lead thanks to a last-second Mikhaela Donnelly layup.
After a scoreless opening term, Batkovic added six points in the second quarter but the game settled into a defensive battle with a pair of baskets from Lauren Mincy helping the Fire take a 31-30 edge into halftime.
The Boomers kicked off the second half with a 4-0 start but again struggled to find the basket while Wiese nailed two triples on her way to eight points for the quarter.
Darcee Garbin connected on a buzzer-beating three-pointer to hand Townsville the 48-40 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
But Melbourne went on an 11-4 run with Maddie Garrick landing her first triple and Cambage running the floor after a block on Mia Murray to score.
With the lead cut to one point, Mincy settled the home side with a three-point play and the veteran leadership of Batkovic and point guard Kelly Wilson kept Melbourne at bay to complete the victory.
The Boomers need to win game two of the best-of-three series at the State Basketball Centre in Melbourne on Thursday night to set up a deciding game three in Townsville.