Gutsy Flames lose nail-biter to Fire

January 29, 2023 | Sydney Flames news

The Sydney Flames gave their all but suffered an 82-78 nail-biter defeat to the Townsville Fire at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday. 

The round 12 fixture was part of Sydney’s first-ever Pride Round and was the club’s fourth and final double-header of 2022-23.

Match summary 

The hosts jumped out to a 4-nil lead after scoring on both their opening possessions down the court. That advantage grew to seven (14-7) thanks to strong play by Flames skipper Keely Froling, guard Tiana Mangakahia and import Hannah Sjerven. As the quarter ticked down, buckets from Jocelyn Willoughby and solid rebounding (16-6 in the first term) by the whole Hoops Capital squad, saw them go into the first break up 26-13. 


A reinvigorated Fire team returned to the court in the second, scoring 10 of the first 12 points to close within five (28-23) midway through the term. But back-to-back triples by Australian Opals squad member Mangakahia stopped that run and helped pushed the game back out to double digits. In the final few minutes, imports Willoughby and Sjerven kept the scoreboard ticking over, as Shelley Gorman’s side went into half-time up 40-32. 

The Fire quickly evaporated their deficit in the third, starting with on a 13-1 run, sparked by seven points from Tianna Hawkins. The harbour city side stopped the bleeding though, thanks to baskets from Emma Clarke and Kiera Rowe. That was short-lived, as the visitors ended the period on a 12-6 stretch, which Townsville (who won the term 32-14) lead 64-54 going into the fourth. 

Needing a fast start, the Flames got it, registering seven of the first 12 points, to make it a three-possession game. Four straight free-throws by Froling and a jumper by Mangakahia then made it 71-66 midway through the final period. A bucket with just over a minute to play by Froling made it a two-point game before a sensational block by Sjerven gave the hosts a chance to hit the front. But a missed triple by Froling, combined with clutch shots from the charity stripe by Krystal Leger-Walker and Karlie Samuelson, sealed the Fire’s 82-78 victory. 

Where the match was decided 

Townsville won the game on the back of statistical victories of field goal percentage (50-41), field goal (85-80), assists (17-16), points in the paint (48-28), points off turnovers (23-10) and bench points (29-8) – all while handing out less turnovers (17-15). 

Key moment 

The third quarter was where the match was won by the Fire, outscoring the Flames 32-14. 

Player of the game 

Captain Froling led the way with 24 points (on 9/18 shooting from the field), five rebounds and two assists in the defeat. 

She was well supported by New York Liberty star Willoughby (19) and Mangakahia (16). 

What’s next 

The Hoops Capital side, who are now 4-12 in WNBL23, now hit the road in round 13 and travel to John Cain Arena to take on the Southside Flyers from 6.30pm AEDT on Saturday, February 4. 

The Flames will then return home, following the FIBA break, for a home match at Quaycentre against the Melbourne Boomers from 5pm Sunday, February 19. 

Tickets for that fixture are still available here.