Flames fall to Townsville in Shyla’s return.
The Townsville Fire beat the Brydens Sydney Uni Flames by 19 points, 75-56, in a competitive match against the last season’s grand finalists in Queensland on Saturday night.
Flames star Shyla Heal made her return to Townsville having played with the Fire in what was a breakout WNBL season last year, winning the WNBL’s Youth Player of the Year and making All-WNBL second team. Heal spoke with Flames media on Wednesday about her return.
It was a slow start for the Flames with the first points coming from Heal after hitting a three with seven minutes left in the quarter. The Flames led early, scoring 18-12 going into the second quarter off the back of great ball movement from the whole team.
The Flames defended well, but Townsville’s import Monique Billings broke the game open for the Fire, scoring 14 in the first half. Townsville created a lot of opportunities, getting to the line 12 times versus the Flames’ four in the first half. The Flames first half was an all-around scoring effort, with no-one scoring double digits and only making 2-13 threes, but even with the cold streak they only trailed behind by eight going into half-time.
The Fire went on a tear in the third quarter, scoring 18 points in the quarter, with great hustle from Zitina Aokuso, who finished the game with 10 points and five rebounds. Nadeen Payne carried the load, scoring 18 points off the bench. The Flames relied on Keely Froling on both ends. Heal, Froling and Lauren Mansfield kept the Flames within reach. Mansfield ended the game with nine points, six rebounds and seven assists.
The Flames held the two of Fire’s stars in import Sug Sutton and Lauren Nicholson to poor percentages. Sutton only shot to 37 per cent from the field, while Nicholson was 2-11 from the field. That is what allowed the Flames to remain competitive until the final few minutes.
The Flames play their against game against the title-contending Melbourne Boomers at Qudos Bank Arena in a double header with the Kings playing against the Tasmanian JackJumpers straight after on Wednesday, December 22 at 5 pm. Get your tickets here.