Flames fightback to defeat Spirit at Quaycentre

December 22, 2023 | Sydney Flames news

The Sydney Flames chalked up their second straight win on Friday night by downing the Bendigo Spirit 79-67 in front of 1,118 fans at Quaycentre.

The round eight victory, which solidifies the Hoops Capital side’s fifth spot on the ladder, was set up by a 36-16 second half.

Match summary 

During the opening exchanges, Lauren Nicholson created movement for the Flames with an early layup before Bendigo’s Kelsey Griffin fought back to tie the game. This was promptly followed by Didi Richards’ score, which pushed the lead into the Flames’ favour. Another attempt at the lead from Spirit’s Ruth Davish was squashed as a jump shot from Kiera Rowe saw the Flames back in the lead. An impressive jump shot from Paige Bradley saw the Flames back in the lead again, however, this fiery energy was matched by Alicia Froling who converted the lead back to Bendigo. Unrivalled contributions from Griffin saw Bendigo drawing away significantly with only a minute to go. Though a late contribution from Lara McSpadden closed this gap, the Flames finished the first trailing by eight (27-19).


Richards clutched up as an early jump shot reignited the Flames’ fire, though a following lay-up from Griffin allowed Bendigo to maintain their lead. This was rivalled as Cayla George followed up with consecutive points for Sydney. Back-to-back jump shots from Kelly Wilson pulled the Spirit away, however, swift jump shots from Nicholson, Emma Clarke and George saw the Spirit’s lead close to six (40-34). Mehryn Kraker came off the bench with a bucket, allowing Bendigo to grow their lead. Clarke and Nicholson prevented this lead from pushing into the double digits as back-to-back layups drew the difference back to six. Contributions from Richards and Vanessa Panousis sparked hopes for a comeback, though Griffin and fouls in Bendigo’s favour saw Sydney enter half-time down by eight (51-43).

Griffin carried her energy into the third quarter, with a jump shot pushing Bendigo’s lead into the double digits, however, this energy was doubled by the Flames, as consecutive jump shots from Nicholson and George revived hopes of a fiery comeback. Casey Samuels ensured Spirit’s lead remained afloat, though an uncontested spark from Nicholson with seven consecutive points pushed the points difference to just two with minutes to spare. McSpadden and Nicholson pulled through to tie the board up within the final seconds. The tie didn’t stand for long as it was swiftly broken in the Flames favour with a jump shot from McSpadden, as Sydney found their spark late to enter the final quarter on a two-point advantage (62-60).

The Flames’ fire was maintained early, as Davis provided back-to-back jump shots to shift the lead back to Bendigo. Bradley however couldn’t be maintained, with a jump shot handing the lead back over the Sydney. Valuable points George and Richards had Flames fire spreading once more followed which left Bendigo at a five-point deficit. This fire continued to be fed by Richards and George which allowed the Flames to extend a comfortable lead. Clean defence from the Flames and a jump shot from Nicholson saw this lead extending into the double digits. Last-minute points from George allowed Sydney to consolidate their place on the ladder, leaving with a 12-point win (79-67).

Where the match was decided 

Statistical superiority in field goal percentage (48-40), steals (6-3), points in the paint (36-28) and pints off turnovers (13-11) – all while committing fewer turnovers 9-14, secured Guy Molloy’s side the win.

Key moment 

A late-game comeback from the Flames, sparked by Nicholson and McSpadden saw the Flames erase from a double-digit deficit. It was this comeback that allowed the Flames to carry their lead into the final quarter, and find momentum to end on a 12-point triumph.  

Player of the game 

Nicholson top-scored for the Flames with an efficient 20 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals – to continue her steller WNBL24 season.

The other standouts were George, in arguably her best game as a Flames, who produced 17 points, nine dimes, eight rebounds, one steal and one block, while imports Richards (13 points and six boards) and Bradley (12 points and five assists).

What’s next

The harbour city side, who improve to 6-5 on the season, next take on league-leaders Townsville on December 29 at Qudos Bank Arena, as part of the Hoops Capital double-header.

Tickets to that day, which will see the Flames play at 5pm and Kings take on Cairns at 7.30pm, are still available here.