Flames fall to Boomers in Froling’s 150th WNBL game

March 5, 2023 | Sydney Flames news

An understrength Sydney Flames outfit gave their all but lost their WNBL23 finale 100-60 against the Melbourne Boomers on Sunday, March 5 at the Melbourne Sports Centre – Parksville. 

The Flames’ final fixture of WNBL23 also marked skipper Keely Froling’s 150th in the competition – with the skipper celebrating the occasion with her seventh double-double of the season.

Match summary 

Despite an early triple by Emma Clarke, the Flames (who were without injured duo Tiana Mangakahia and Jocelyn Willoughby) fell behind early, to the tune of 10-5 – which quickly became 14-7 behind scores by Tiffany Mitchell. The ballooned to as many as 11, but buckets by Clarke (who shot a perfect 2/2 from three and 2-2 from the charity stripe) and Froling brought it back to a three-possession game for Sydney. At the end of the first, the hosts led 26-15. 

Clarke picked up where she left off in the second with a coast-to-coast lay-up, while Froling’s efforts from the line made a six-point game midway through the period. In the up and down contest, the Flames had the chance to close the gap further but couldn’t convert from the field. That proved pivotal, as Chris Lucas’ side rattled off nine unanswered points, to move ahead by 15 with just under two to play. But a late charge, capped by a Maddy Allen triple, reduced the margin to 10 (44-34) at half-time. 

A 6-0 run to start the half by the hosts extended the lead to 16 and forced Flames coach Shelley Gorman into a time-out. Despite that, Sydney’s scoring drought continued and the lead blew out to 19 before Froling hit a two-pointer with 5.54 to play. That was just one of two baskets (the other by Kiera Rowe) the Hoops Capital side scored through the first six and half minutes of the third, as Melbourne went on a huge 20-4 run – to move out to 64-38. It was all one-way traffic during that 10-minute period, as the host won the term by 24, to head into the final period up 75-41. 

That momentum was halted in the fourth, as the harbour city side scored five of the first six points of the term. But the hosts responded after a time-out, scoring 10 of the next 15, to lead 86-51 with 4.59 on the clock. Despite solid minutes by young guns Indi Bowyer (who hit her first career triple) and Lilly Rotunno (who chalked up her first career field goal), the Boomers (who won the term 25-19) proved too strong and ran out comprehensive winners 100-60. 

Where the match was decided 

Melbourne dominated numerous statistical categories at the BoomBox, including field goal percentage (56-31), free-throw percentage (61-53), rebounds (54-33), assists (28-11), steals (10-3), blocks (6-1), points in the paint (54-24), second-chance points (13-5), bench points (36-10) and fastbreak points (20-4.) 

Key moment  

The third term proved as the match-winner for the Boomers, who outscored the Flames by 24 points (31-7) – to set up their 15th win of the season. 

Players of the game 

Australian Opal Froling did all she could for the understrength Flames, finishing the contest with 21 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. 

She was well supported by wing Clarke, who tallied 10 points, eight boards, four dimes and one block, and Allen, who hit a career-high 10 points, to go along with three rebounds and two assists. 

What’s next 

The Flames, who finished the 20 home and away regular season games with a 6-15 record, end the campaign in sixth position on the ladder. 

Gorman and her side will wrap up their WNBL23 commitments on Sunday night with the league’s awards night in Melbourne – with Froling shortlisted for both the MVP and All-WNBL sides.