Flames defeat Capitals in front of huge crowd

December 30, 2022 | Sydney Flames news

The Sydney Flames kept their final chances alive on Friday night by defeating the Canberra Capitals 81-70 at Qudos Bank Arena. 

In game one of the Hoops Capital double-header, the Flames chalked up their first two-game win streak of WNBL23, in front of more 3,963 fans. 

Match summary 

The hosts jumped out to a 9-4 lead early on following a triple by guard Tiana Mangakahia before the Caps rattled off six straight – forcing coach Shane Heal into a time-out. The two sides then traded baskets and the lead, as the first quarter clock ticked down – seeing the visitors hold a one-point lead (18-17) at the end of one. 


Canberra continued their charge at the start of the second by scoring eight of the first 12 points, to extend their lead to five. A four-point play by Jocelyn Willoughby and a triple by Shyla Heal then helped the Flames draw level at 28-all. Turnovers and missed shots hindered the Flames in the back end of the second term but late threes by Heal and Maddy Allen put their noses in front 36-34 at the main break. 

Early shots from downtown by Mangakahia, Heal and Keely Froling put the Flames in front by seven with just over five to play. More damage inside the paint by Froling saw that margin grow to 10, before the Caps closed to within nine (57-48) at the final change – following a Clarke buzzer-beater.

A 7-4 run to start the fourth, capped by an Emma Clarke three-pointer, saw the lead grow to 12. To make matters worse for the visitors, star guard Jade Melbourne fouled out midway through the term, as Heal and Mangakahia helped the Flames’ advantage grow to as many as 14. In the dying stages, coach Heal emptied his bench, as the Flames ran out 11-point winners, to chalk up their third win of WNBL23. 

Where the match was decided 

The Hoops Capital side’s win was set up by dominance in the statistical categories of rebounds (42-36), assists (16-10), points in the paint (32-26), second chance points (16-9), points off turnovers (22-5) and fastbreak points (7-0) – all while producing fewer turnovers (13-7). 

Key moment 

Despite the attempts of Canberra to make a run at the end of the third quarter, keys defensive stops and buckets by Heal and Clarke laid the platform for the Flames’ big win. 

Players of the game 

Hard to split the efforts of Froling and Heal on Friday night. 

The captain finished with a huge double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds, along with two assists and two blocks. 

While guard Heal chalked up 26 points (including four triples), seven dimes, six boards and one steal in the double-digit triumph. 

Others to score in double figures were Willoughby (12) and Mangakahia (10).

What’s next 

Heal’s side, who improve to 3-7 in WNBL23, now hit the road once again and travel to Perth for the second time this season. 

The round nine fixture against the 3-5 Lynx will tip-off at 10pm AEDT on Saturday, January 30 from the Bendat Basketball Centre.