Flames fightback to record overtime win against Fire

December 29, 2023 | Sydney Flames news

The Sydney Flames have put the rest of the WNBL on notice by defeating league-leaders Townsville 77-74 in overtime at Qudos Bank Arena on Friday night.

The harbour city side’s biggest win of the season played in front of 3,121 fans, is their third straight and cements their fifth spot on the ladder. 

Match summary  

Townsville’s Sami Whitcomb put early points on the board as the Flames struggled defensively, with Zatina Aukuso following shortly after to put Townsville on a four-point advantage. Fouls in favour of Townsville had the Flames conceding four more points before a timeout was called. A lay-up from Cayla George broke the Flames’ scoring drought, followed swiftly by Kiera Rowe, as the Flames closed the points gap to four. With a minute left on the clock, Emma Clarke clutched up, with back-to-back contributions placing the Flames at a two-point advantage over the Fire (10-8). 

Fouls in Townsville’s favour, saw the board tied early into the second quarter, with points from Aukuso placing the visitors on top. This lead was short-lived, as Didi Richards and Clarke fired up to place the Flames at a three-point lead (17-14). A jump shot from Courtney Woods and a lay-up from Sami Whitcomb ensured Sydney remained close, with fouls pushing the lead over to Townsville. A triple from Clarke tied the board once more, however, Stephanie Reid and Woods answered this with five quick points for Townsville. Woods and Reid continued this momentum for the reigning champions, as back-to-back contributions saw them enter into the second half on a 10-point advantage over the Flames (32-22). 

Traded baskets started the second half off strong for both teams, however consecutive layups from Reid made it difficult for the score to sway in Sydney’s favour. Efforts from Lauren Nicolson and Richards allowed the Flames to crawl back into the single digits, with Cayla George coming up clutch with a jump shot to draw the points gap closer. Richards found her fire late into the third quarter, trading baskets with Whitcomb to ensure the Flames remained in contention for the lead. Nicholson added fuel to this fire, with five points putting the two teams on a level playing field. The tie toppled in Townsville’s favour once more, though a basket on the buzzer from George had the Flames trailing by just one into the final quarter. 


Opening lay-ups from Whitcomb and Reid saw Townsville pulling away, though Clarke and Goerge matched this fight, keeping the Fire within arm’s reach. The board was tied up once more, following a jump shot from Nicholson, though Whitcomb and Woods ensured it tipped in Townsville’s favour. A triple from George put out Aukuso’s fire, with a foul in the Flames’ favour aiding their late scramble to the top, though a lay-up from Reid had the board all tied up, as the clock ticked into overtime (with a Richards lay-up being waved away as time expired). A triple from Richards set the tone for the final five minutes, with Nicolson following to put the Flames in the ascendancy. It was fire-on-fire, as the two tugged back and forth, though Townsville was ultimately unable to handle the heat, as Sydney walked away with their seventh win of the WNBL24 season, with three points on Townsville (77-74) – marking their first win over the Queenslanders since 2019.

Where the match was decided  

Sydney secured the win thanks to statistical victories in assists (19-10), blocks (7-1) and bench points (18-5) – while committing less turnovers (13-17). 

Key moment  

A 27-18 third quarter turned the fortunes around for the Flames and laid the platform for their big comeback win. 

Player of the game 

Richards has her best game in Flames colours, producing 21 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two blocks and one steal in the victory. 

The other standouts were George (17 points and 11 rebounds), Nicholson (15 points and 11 dimes) and Clarke (17 points including three triples). 

Watch Emma Clarke and Guy Molloy’s post-game press conference via Sydney Flames’ YouTube channel above. While you’re there, be sure to hit subscribe, to ensure you never miss out on any of our great videos.

What’s next  

Molloy’s side, who are now 7-5, now head to Adelaide to face the Lightning on Friday, January 6 from 7.30pm AEDT – which will be broadcast on 9Now. 

The Hoops Capital side will then return to Sydney two days later to take on Melbourne as part of the club’s third double-header at Qudos Bank Arena. 

The WNBL fixture tips off at 1.15pm before the Kings take on Brisbane from 3.45pm – with tickets available here.