Flames heartbroken by the reigning champion Flyers
The Brydens Sydney Uni Flames have been beaten by the reigning champion Southside Flyers in a close 70-73 loss at Qudos Bank Arena.
Kalani Purcell got the game started with a three which became contagious. The Flames made four three-pointers in the quarter from four different players including a Shyla Heal pull-up three.
.@shylaheal1 making it look easy! #FlameOn #WeAreWNBL pic.twitter.com/fnFqqR0bcY
— Sydney Uni Flames (@SydUniFlames) January 30, 2022
Kalani continued her defensive presence from the last game with a couple of deflections and tough put back layup.
The Flyers caught up with a full team effort, with six different scorers in the first quarter. But the Flames’ hot shooting put them ahead by three points in the first quarter.
Kiera Rowe continued the sharpshooting in the second, in addition to some solid team defence. The Flames were playing their brand of basketball, making the Flyers’ entry passes difficult and pushing the fast break.
The Flyers guard Rebecca Cole kept Southside within reach, she scored 11 points in the first half, but the Flames had a cracking run to put them up 44-33 going into half-time.
The Flyers came inching back, led by captain Jenna O’Hea with two deep threes in the third quarter.
But this was Funda Nakkasoglu’s quarter, she scored nine points with three three-pointers in the quarter alone. She finished the game with 17 points.
Cole did not give up, scoring 21 points in the game and Opal kept the Flames on their toes defensively from start to finish.
The Flames’ pressure was close to their season-best against the reigning champions, especially from Kalani Purcell. Funda’s nuclear quarter put the Flames into a seemingly safe position with a 15-point buffer, until late in the fourth quarter.
Some late-game heroics from O’Hea and a few too many Flames defensive lapses left the game as a one-possession difference with two minutes left. Sara Blicavs made a corner three to push the Flyers ahead by one.
The Flames held on, forcing a shot clock violation that led into a timeout. The Flames had 29 seconds on the clock to get ahead.
The Flames failed to get a shot up and played hellacious full-court defence. The Flyers played keep-away and were fouled, up by three a hope and a heave wasn’t enough to secure the win.
Post-game coach Shane Heal and game-star Funda Nakkasoglu spoke with Flames media.
It was a difficult loss but coach Heal described the mindset of the Flames coming out of the game.
“The girls were great for three and a half quarters,” coach Heal said.
“We got beat by a veteran team, we were undermanned without Loz [Lauren Mansfield] and imports.”
Heal spoke on the ‘next man up’ mentality, which Funda displayed perfectly.
“Different people are going to have to step up,” Heal said.
Funda responded by saying “in the world of sports everybody gets their moments,” she said.
“It’s always next man up, you have to fill in those roles and honestly my teammates were finding me. It was the plays that had been drawn up as well, I think our ball-movement helped.”
The Flames’ next game will be at Qudos Bank Arena against the Townsville Fire at 3.30pm on Sunday, February 6. This will be our last Flames and Kings double header! If you haven’t already get your tickets here.