Flames lose home opener to undefeated Boomers
The Sydney Flames lost their WNBL24 home opener on Sunday, going down 95-80 to the Melbourne Boomers at Qudos Bank Arena.
The game, which was the first fixture in the Hoops Capital double-header, was played in front of 2,589 fans.
In her first game as a Flames in Sydney, Cayla George fired her side up quickly, pushing them into an early lead before a jump-shot from former Flame Keely Froling cancelled it out. But the hot shooting of Sydney product Lauren Nicholson was timely, as the hosts had an early five-point lead. Contributions from Boomers’ Sara Blicavs and Naz Hillmonn ensured the points gap remained tight, though consecutive jump shots from Didi Richards allowed the Flames to consolidate their lead. Despite the Flames’ strong start, Froling and Jordin Canada showed up for Melbourne, tying the game up. The tie was swiftly broken in the Flames’ favour, with a lay-up from Lara McSpadden upping Sydney’s momentum, however a late charge by Melbourne saw the Flames trail 25-23 after the first quarter.
Strong defence from the Flames and fight from Richards saw the game squared up once more before a jump shot from George swayed the lead into Syndey’s favour. Regular buckets from George and Nicholson kept Sydney’s lead intact but contributions from Hillmon and Canada, paired with fouls in the Boomers’ favour, saw the Flames fall behind by five (38-33). A lay-up from Richards broke Sydney’s scoring drought, however, it was not enough to ward off the Boomers, as Reed and Blicavs pushed Melbourne to a double-digit lead (48-37). Turnovers in the Flames’ favour and scores from Richards and McSpadden, paired with a late jump shot from Nicholson had the Flames trailing by only four as they entered half-time.
A slow start from the Flames allowed the Boomers to consolidate an eight-point lead early in the third. A tough drive from Emma Clarke spurred the Flames on, although early baskets from Blicavs and Reed ensured the Boomers remained in a comfortable lead – with fouls in Melbourne’s favour contributing significantly to their double-digit lead (61-50). The Flames fired up late into the third quarter, with Kiera Rowe putting up five points to ensure Sydney remained in contention for the lead. Despite this late comeback, efforts from Penina Davidson and Reed allowed Melbourne to enter the final quarter with a 16-point advantage (73-57).
AND ONEEEEE @Deauzya
— Sydney Flames (@TheSydneyFlames) November 12, 2023
Continuing her streak from the prior term, a jump shot from Rowe placed the Flames back in the running, with lay-ups from Paige Bradley and George shrinking the lead of Melbourne further – until Blicavs nailed a triple. Tough defence and getting out on the break allowed the Flames to make a powerful comeback, closing the points gap to just five as the win remained in reach with just four minutes to go. However, clutch performances from the Boomers’ Canada and Blicav diminished late efforts from Rowe and Richards, as Melbourne continued to extend their lead late into the final term. Last-minute points from McSpadden aided the Flames, yet, the points gap remained substantial, as Melbourne took home a 15-point win (95-80), with the Flames suffering their second loss at their first home game of the WNBL24 season.
Where the match was decided
The Hoops Capital side suffered their second loss of the season by allowing Melbourne to hit 56 per cent of their shots from the field, compared to shooting 46 per cent themselves.
Other statistical wins that helped the Boomers triumph were in assists (27-22), blocks (2-0), points in the paint (38-32) and second-chance points (13-9) – all while committing fewer turnovers (13-9).
A 23-13 third period for the Boomers secured them their third straight win to start WNBL24.
Player of the game
Import Richards was the standout for the Hoops Capital side, finishing with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Others to score in double-figures for the harbour city side were Nicholson (15 points and four dimes), Rowe (13), George (11 points, seven boards and five assists) and Bradley (11 points and five dimes).
Molloy’s side, who are now 1-2, now have a quick turnaround, as they host the Canberra Capitals in their first game at Quaycentre in WNBL24 on Wednesday night from 7pm AEDT.
Grab your tickets to the round three fixture here.