Flames Dominant in Finals Preview Win

December 29, 2017 | Sydney Flames news

Brydens Sydney Uni Flames have given themselves every chance to snare second spot in the final WNBL standings following a 107-81 win over the Townsville Fire. Led by Jennifer Hamson’s 24 points and 10 rebounds, the Flames can now secure second spot and home advantage in the semi-final series against the Fire with a win over Bendigo on New Year’s Eve.

Asia Taylor picked up the steal on Townsville’s first possession, and was able to finish off the play at the other end to open the scoring for the Flames, before Cayla George knocked down a shot shortly after to leave the game tied at 2-2 early in the piece. Both teams had reasonable looks as the first half progressed, but baskets were hard to come by at times, unless your name was Jennifer Hamson. A pair of close-range shots fell for the American to precede a Katie-Rae Ebzery three, and quickly the Flames had moved out to an 11-4 lead. Another Townsville turnover followed, and Taylor finished the lay-up on the break to force Fire coach Claudia Brassard to take a timeout with her side down 9 after 4 minutes.

Hamson continued her outstanding start to the night with another basket out of the timeout, and although the Fire’s offence improved with baskets to Cayla George and Mia Murray, the Flames maintained their margin courtesy of a Belinda Snell three, with the Opals stalwart left wide open after the Flames’ offence collapsed and her defender attempted to chase a loose ball, which instead ended in the Flames’ hands before eventually finding Snell.

As the Flames kept the scoreboard ticking over, even Carly Boag got in on the three-point action. Whilst her shooting from beyond the arc is generally fairly efficient, the Flames’ forward doesn’t take many three-pointers, but she knocked one down late in the opening term to maintain a solid lead for the home side. Ebzery put the Flames up 27-17 with a deep two late in the term, but a Darcee Garbin putback just beat the buzzer to put the Fire within 8 at 27-19 after a quarter.

A Fire three opened the second quarter, but some excellent passing between Snell and Hamson saw the Flames hit back immediately. With Taylor and Hamson crashing the boards aggressively, the home side may not have always reaped the rewards, but they certainly gave the visitors something to think about at that end of the court.

The Fire got on a bit of a run midway through the second quarter, trimming the margin to five on several occasions, before cutting the Flames’ lead to 38-35 midway through the term and forcing coach Cheryl Chambers into a timeout. Fortunately for the Flames, Snell hit her third consecutive three out of the timeout to keep the Fire at bay in the short-term. Shortly after, Hamson came flying through on an offensive rebound after Susi Walmsley’s three ballooned of the rim, dropping in the second chance basket to restore an eight point lead for the Flames.

Some excellent transition play from the Flames found Ebzery wide open in the corner for the three to put the home side up 11 heading into the final minute of the quarter. Mia Murray trimmed the margin to nine shortly after with a lay-up, before Cayla George tallied the last basket of the half to see the first half end with the home side holding a 50-43 advantage courtesy of 14 points from Hamson and 13 for Snell.

Snell opened the second half with yet another three, and Alex Wilson followed up with one of her own to give the home side a scintillating start to the third quarter. However, a pair of Townsville baskets and some questionable decisions from the Flames on offence allowed the visitors to creep back within single digits in reasonably quick time. Snell quickly put paid to that though, allowing her defender to fly by on the close-out and knock down a three from the wing and keep the Flames up 10 at 61-51. With the Flames looking for the extra pass at all times, they were able to find the open player time and again and quickly established a 70-55 lead, capped off by Alex Wilson’s steal and fast break lay-up which led to a Townsville timeout.

The timeout did little to stem the flow though, with the Flames scoring the first six points after the break courtesy of baskets to Sarah Graham, Shanae Greaves and Asia Taylor. The Flames continued to rocket along, but once again the last minute of the quarter belonged to the Fire as two Sydney Wiese baskets cut the margin to 78-63 with a quarter to play.

The Flames opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run before Darcee Garbin finally got Townsville on the board in the final term with nearly three minutes played. The World University Games gold-medallist followed up with a three before Asia Taylor found room under the basket to put the Flames up 20 with six minutes to play. The procession continued as the fourth quarter rolled on, with the lead passing the 25 point mark with just under five minutes remaining.

A couple of threes to Wiese and Garbin cut into the Flames’ lead slightly, but this night well and truly belonged to the home side as they secured the vital win required to stay in the hunt for home advantage in the semi-final series to come between these two sides. The Flames passed the 100 point mark with around three minutes to play before Chambers emptied the bench, bringing youngsters Cassidy McLean and Lara McSpadden on for their first minutes of the game. McSpadden chalked up a basket with an outstanding move to find her way to the hoop, before Hayley Moffatt knocked down a neat runner as time expired to see the Flames finish with a dominant 107-81 victory. Jennifer Hamson top scored for the home side with 24 points whilst adding 10 rebounds, whilst Belinda Snell added 19 points and 9 assists. Asia Taylor also came close to a double-double with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Darcee Garbin led the visitors with 20 points and 11 rebounds, whilst Sydney Wiese added 13 points and Cayla George tallied 12.

Brydens Sydney Uni Flames 107 (Hamson 24p, 10r; Snell 19p, 9a; Taylor 18p, 9r)
JCU Townsville Fire 81 (Garbin 20p, 11r; Wiese 13p; George 12p, 5r)