Flames finish road trip with loss to Lightning
The Sydney Flames have gone down 87-67 to the Adelaide Lightning at the Adelaide Arena on Saturday night.
The Flames head into a FIBA break without a win after a tough three-game road stint to start the WNBL season.
The Lightning, who were playing in front of their home fans for the first time in more than 1000 days, started the stronger in the round three match by scoring 11 of the first 14 points – forcing Flames coach Shane Heal to call a time-out. That sparked the Hoops Capital side into action, rattling off a 9-3 run, behind the strong play of skipper Keely Froling. Despite closing to within five, a late flurry by the hosts saw them lead 24-15 at the first change.
In the second, the Flames closed to the margin to eight following Emma Clarke’s first bucket in Sydney colours. Heal’s side struggled to eat away further at the deficit with numerous missed opportunities from downtown going begging (0/8 in first half). An 11-0 run by the Lightning, capped by two bombs by Lauren Mansfield, saw the lead balloon to 22. A late Shyla Heal jumper closed to match to 47-27 at half-time.
Sydney’s woes from downtown ended when Tiana Mangakahia hit the club’s 10th attempt from three, which helped the Flames close to within 18. Although Adelaide kept hitting their shots, stronger transition defence and sensational offence by Froling saw Sydney close to within 15 (61-46) at three-quarter-time.
That lead quickly became 12 in the fourth when Mangakahia hit a driving lay-up but, despite an increased intensity, the Flames defensive lapses prevented them to closing within single digits. All momentum by Heal’s side was evaporated in the fourth by numerous triples by Lauren Mansfield and Kirsten Bell – which helped the Lightning chalk up their first win of WNBL23 87-67.
Where the match was decided
Apart from a significant advantage from downtown (54 per cent to 26), led by 7/7 by Mansfield, the Lightning also won the statistical categories of field goal percentage (51-32), rebounds (44-38), assists (22-18), blocks (7-4), points in the paint (36-26), bench points (21-7) and fast-break points (14-5).
The match was won for the Lightning in a two-minute period late on in the second period, when they scored 11 unanswered points and moved out to more than a 20-point lead. This was due to the host’s hot shooting from downtown and Sydney’s inability to execute and finish on their plays.
Player of the game
In a losing effort, captain Froling did all she could to the tune of 21 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals.
The other standout for the Flames was Mangakahia, who tallied 15 points, four boards, two steals and one dime – with most of that coming in the second half.
Next up for Heal’s side, who are now 0-3 after three rounds, is a weekend off before travelling to Melbourne on Thursday, December 1 for a clash with the Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre from 6.30pm AEDT.
Then comes the Flames’ first home game of the season, a double header with the Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena on December 4.