Clarke’s offensive explosion not enough as Flames fall to Lynx

October 12, 2023 | Sydney Flames news

The Sydney Flames lost their opening River City Rebound pre-season clash to the Perth Lynx 94-93 on Thursday at the Northside Indoor Sports Centre. 

Match summary 

Lauren Nicholson set the tone for the Flames early with a driving and one lay-up – marking her first bucket back in Sydney colours. Wing Emma Clarke then rattled off a quick-fire five points, to help the Hoops Capital lead 9-7 midway through the opening term. Poor defensive rebounding hurt Sydney but the offense continued to click, with a Nes’eya Williams triple putting them up 18-13. An 8-0 run by the Lynx saw them take the lead late in the period before a jumper by Vanessa Panousis gave the harbour city the 23-21 lead at the first break. 

Perth scored the first four points of the term, which was quickly cancelled out by six straight by Lara McSpadden – keeping the Flames’ noses in front 29-27 midway through the term. Perth’s Miela Goodchild and Aari McDonald then sparked their side to a 9-2 run, which quickly escalated to a 17-4 streak by the Lynx. A late corner three by Mackenzie Clinch Hoycard ensured the Lynx held a 12-point lead at the main break (49-37). 

Clarke then electrified the Flames’ offence, scoring the team’s first 17 points of the third – including four triples, to drag the Flames back into the contest. The Flames run continued as an Ahlise Hurst three tied the game at 61-all before Kiera Rowe’s free-throw gave them the lead – capping a 25-12 run. At the end of the fantastic period, Sydney held a three-point lead. 

The two sides traded baskets to start the fourth, with Nicholson, Clarke and Williams keeping the scoreboard ticking over for Sydney. McSpadden work inside the paint and at the charity stripe gave Sydney an 86-83 lead with 3.50 to play. Rowe’s exceptional defence, which saw her take numerous charges, combined with Nicholson and Panousis’ clutch buckets late kept the Flames in it – as Amy Atwell did what she could to steal it for the Lynx. Unfortunately, a shot as time expired by Nicholson missed – seeing Sydney fall 94-93 to Perth. 

Where the match was decided 

In the even contest, barely anything separated the teams statistically, shown by how close field goal percentage (46.25 – 45.95), rebounds (42-43), assists (24-19) and steals (7-8).

Key moment  

The second quarter hurt the Flames the most, losing 28-14 – which proved pivotal despite a heroic third term by Clarke. 

Player of the game 

Clarke was dead set cooking for the Flames, especially in the second half. The wing finished with 28 points (on 11/17 shooting), 11 rebounds, five triples and one steal. 


Other standouts were McSpadden (14 points and seven rebounds), Panousis (13 points and four dimes), Nicholson (11 points, five points and four rebounds) and Williams (11 points and five boards). 

What’s next 

The Flames will return to the hardwood on Saturday for game two of the River City Rebound against Adelaide – tipping off at 6pm AEDT. 

The fixture at the Northside Indoor Sports Centre will be streamed here.