Flames struck down by Lightning
(Image: News Corp Australia)
By Lachy France
After seemingly flying following last week’s 101-89 win over the Melbourne Boomers, Brydens Sydney Uni Flames had their wings clipped by the Adelaide Lightning, going down 77-74 in a hotly contested battle.
Jennifer Hamson starred for the home side, completing a double-double inside 15 minutes and finishing the game with 25 points and 18 rebounds, whilst Nicole Seekamp top scored for the Lightning with 22 points and also dished out 5 assists.
Turnovers hampered the Flames’ offence on their first two possessions, and the Lightning quickly capitalised as Abby Bishop opened the scoring. The teams traded baskets early, with six points from Jennifer Hamson pacing the Flames in the opening stages, but the Lightning kept pace as four players registered early baskets for the visitors. The Flames suffered slightly from some early turnover issues, but did enough on defence to keep the Lightning from capitalising on the opportunities and remained close heading into the final three minutes of the term, with a pair of Belinda Snell free throws taking the score to 16-15 in the visitors’ favour.
Utilising her renowned curl and pull-up, Katie-Rae Ebzery knocked down a neat mid-range jumper, but Abby Bishop utilised her equally famous post moves to find her way to the basket and finish from close range to move the score to 20-17. Nicole Seekamp then doubled the Lightning lead with a three before the former University of South Dakota star added two more with a reverse lay-up. Hamson countered with a second chance basket, but another three for Seekamp forced Flames coach Cheryl Chambers to take a timeout with the score at 28-19 with just under a minute remaining in the first quarter. Whilst the timeout didn’t lead to any points for the Flames, the Lightning also couldn’t add to their total and the first quarter ended with the score still at 28-19. Hamson led the Flames’ scoring in the opening quarter with 8 points, whilst Bishop and Seekamp each had 8 of their own for the Lightning.
Asia Taylor quickly set about closing the gap with a nice move to find an opening and finish, before Ebzery finished on the break following a Lightning turnover to trim the margin to 5. However, the Lighting pair of Bishop and Colleen Planeta quickly re-established the Adelaide lead to 9 with some excellent work around the basket. Hamson quickly returned to the basket to add to the Flames’ defensive presence around the rim, but it was her work on offence that paid immediate dividends, finishing off an Asia Taylor pass from close range. That basket took Hamson to ten points and ten rebounds as the American completed a double-double in less than 14 minutes. More quick baskets followed from the Flames and almost in a blink, the margin had been cut to 32-29. Some excellent defensive work was undone by allowing a couple of offensive rebounds which saw the Lightning able to extend their offensive possessions, but the Flames hung tough over the next minute or so to deny the Lightning a basket until Taylor knocked down a jumper to cut the Adelaide lead to a solitary point.
The Lightning were able to finally get the scoreboard ticking over again through a pair of Bishop free throws, but two consecutive baskets saw the Flames take a 35-34 lead as Ebzery was the beneficiary of a steal from Carly Boag, who delivered a lead pass for the 2016 Olympian to lay the ball in ahead of the chasing Aimie Clydesdale. An Adelaide timeout ensued, and the Lightning would be the first to score out of the stoppage courtesy of Colleen Planeta. Clydesdle followed with a three, but an athletic tip-in from Alex Wilson followed by yet another Ebzery pull-up jumper saw the first half end with the scores tied 39-39. Hamson’s 10 points and 12 rebounds were a Flames highlight at halftime, with Bishop’s 12 points pacing the Lightning.
Snell commenced second half proceedings with a lay-up to put the Flames in front, but Colleen Planeta made up for an early turnover to tie things up shortly after. The game remained close in the opening stages, with the margin remaining within a basket for much of the first half of the third quarter. However, when the lead was finally extended beyond a couple of points, it was the Flames, through Carly Boag’s midrange jumper, that put the home side up four. Planeta quickly returned the favour though, and the game remained on a knife-edge in a slightly lower scoring third quarter.
Seekamp took her total to double-digits and tied the game in the process, and when Ruth Hamblin finished from close range moments later, the visitors had retaken the lead at 50-48. With the Flames’ offence unable to find many open looks as the quarter wound down, the home side were in danger of letting the Lightning get away until Taylor knocked down a shot to reinvigorate the home side. That was quickly followed by a three from Ebzery to give the Flames a 53-52 lead heading into the final minute of the quarter. Taylor rounded out the Flames’ scoring with a pair of free throws before some outstanding defence by Hamson in the final seconds saw the home side take a 55-52 lead into the last quarter.
A charging call on Asia Taylor saw the star forward pick up her fourth foul early in the final term, and the American was forced to the bench, being saved for the final minutes. Turnovers hurt both teams’ offences in the early stages of the quarter, but the Lightning were able to shake off the issue more quickly and moved into a 60-59 lead, forcing the Flames into a timeout after some quick baskets from Clydesdale, Seekamp, and Bishop.
Hamson notched the first basket after the timeout on a putback from a missed Snell layup before coming up with a block on Planeta’s midrange shot on Adelaide’s next trip down the court to continue an outstanding evening. However, Seekamp earned and converted an and-one opportunity immediately after as the lead changed hands yet again. However, with Hamson continuing to cause havoc under the basket, the Flames were never out of the contest. A couple of baskets to Taylor, including a converted and-one opportunity, also provided valuable points as the Flames trailed 73-70 with two minutes remaining as Adelaide called a timeout.
A couple of scoreless possessions passed for each team, but Taylor brought the home side within one with a deep two. A basket to each side followed, and heading into the final minute the Flames trailed 76-74. Clydesdale earned a trip to the line on a foul call that failed to impress the crowd to any degree, but the Lightning point guard split the pair of free throws.
The Flames had their chances on the next possession to tie the game, with Wilson, Snell, and Ebzery all seeing shots from beyond the arc rim out. Somehow, the Flames forced a turnover on the next Adelaide possession, but they remained down by 3 in the final 10 seconds. A potential buzzer-beater three point attempt from Taylor caught the front iron and bounced away to see the Lightning take the W back to Adelaide as 77-74 victors.
Jennifer Hamson’s 25 point, 18 rebound effort was undoubtedly the performance of the night, whilst Asia Taylor tallied 19 points and 7 rebounds and Katie-Rae Ebzery added 17 points for the home side. For the visitors, Nicole Seekamp led with 22 points and 5 assists, whilst Abby Bishop tallied a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds, whilst also tallying 4 assists.
Brydens Sydney Uni Flames 74 (Hamson 25p, 18r; Taylor 19p, 7r; Ebzery 17p)
Adelaide Lightning 77 (Seekamp 22p, 5a; Clydesdale 17p, 6a; Bishop 16p, 10r, 4a)
Brydens Sydney Uni Flames vs. JCU Townsville Fire on Saturday 2nd December @3pm*
*Broadcast live on Fox Sports from Brydens Stadium
Pre purchase your tickets here