Flames defeat Capitals for first home win of season
The Sydney Flames have marked their first home game at Quaycentre of WNBL24 with a win, defeating Canberra 86-81 on Wednesday night.
The five-point victory, which also marked Lara McSpadden’s 50th in Flsmes colours, over local rivals, the Capitals, was played in front of 1,258.
Despite an early foul in the Capitals’ favour, Lauren Nicholson fired the Flames up with a lay-up, starting the game off strong. An effort from Flames’ Didi Richards quickly followed, which pushed the lead into Sydney’s favour. This lead was cancelled out by Canberra’s Jade Melbourne, however, Richards and Paige Bradley pulled through and returned the lead to the Flames. Fouls in the Capitals’ favour pushed the lead to Canberra following a tie game. This was promptly cancelled out with a jump-shot from Nicholson, though a quick reply from Monica Okoye saw the lead swift- as the Flames trailed by two (19-17). A tying fade out from George was rapidly shut down by Capitals’ Okoye, as the Flames fought to break the ledger with contributions from Vanessa Panousis. Consecutive jump-shots from Nicholson (who had 12 points for the term) shifted the lead back to the Flames’ favour and saw them enter the second quarter up by three (29-26).
A lay-up from Nicole Munger started the second term off strong for the Capitals, though the Flames’ Kiera Rowe was quick to fight back, with a jump shot extending Sydney’s lead. A score from Richards pushed the Flames’ lead widen, following a lead-threatening comeback from Capitals’ Alex Sharp. A fade-away from Emma Clarke, coupled with a jump-shot from Bradley saw tje Flames consolidate a comfortable lead 40-34. Canberra promptly closed the points gap up as back-to-back jump shots from Melbourne and Munger pushed the board to a tie. Richards clutched up, as uninterrupted lay-ups broke the tie and extended the Flames’ lead. Clean defence and 5fiveconsecutive points powered the Flames to enter half-time with a seven-point lead (52-45).
Our Flames lead 52-45 at half-time thanks to 14 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block from @Deauzya 🔥
— Sydney Flames (@TheSydneyFlames) November 15, 2023
Richards remained fired up into the third quarter, extending the Flames’ lead within the first few seconds. A comeback from Canberra followed swiftly, with contributions from Alex Bunton, Munger and Melbourne, which drew the Flames to a one-point lead. This gap did not hold for long as a jump shot from Cayla George allowed the Flames to pull away, with contributions from Panousis and Nicholson warding the Capitals off further. A jump shot from Richards saw the Flames enter a double-digit lead, with Canberra trailing by 10 (63-53). A basket from Sharp drew the Capitals out of a scoring drought, however, Flames’ Lara McSpadden ensured the points gap remained at 10. A lay-up from Okoye pushed the gap to eight, though the Flames maintained the lead for another quarter.
A Jump shot from Okoye prompted an early comeback for the Capitals, followed by Melbourne as they fought to close the gap to five. McSpadden and Bradley drew the Flames back, however, a bucket from Melbourne and Sharp ensured the Capitals trailed close behind. Despite a fade away from Nicholson, the margin closed to two as Canberra sparked up for the final quarter. Fouls in Sydney’s favour allowed the Flames to pull back once more though a lay-up from Jayda Clark closed the gap up. Consecutive lay-ups from Nicholson and Bradley revived Sydney’s hopes and kept Canberra at bay. A big shot from Melbourne was quickly cancelled out by George. Canberra’s fire couldn’t be put out, with Sharp drawing the points gap to three with just 18 seconds left. Fouls in Sydney’s favour and clutch free-throws by Bradley ultimately allowed the Flames to take out a win for their first home game of the season.
Where the match was decided
Sydney’s victory was set up by dominant displays in the statistical categories of field goal percentage (52-40), assists (17-12), block (5-1), point in the paint (42-32) and bench points (18-2).
In the back-and-forth contest, a 14-7 run at the end of the third quarter by the Flames laid the platform for the victory.
Player of the game
Nicholson produced a masterclass for the Flames, finishing with 25 points, three assists and two steals for the Hoops Capital side.
Others to shine in the harbour city side’s second win of WNBL24 were Richards (18 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block) and Bradley (12 points, three boards, one dime and one steal).
Molloy’s side, who are now 2-2, now have 10 days until their next game, which is a road trip to face Bendigo at the Bendigo Stadium.
The round four fixture, which tips off on Saturday, November 25 at 6.30pm AEDT, will be broadcast live on 9Now.