Flyers’ fourth-quarter onslaught secures win over Flames
The Sydney Flames showed plenty of fight on Thursday night but went down 82-75 to the Southside Flyers at the State Basketball Centre.
The hosts, who were without Lauren Jackson (gastro bug) on Thursday, opened the Fighting Period Poverty Round clash the stronger, racing out to a 5-0 lead – as the Flames went scoreless until Shyla Heal hit two free-throws with 6.36 left to play in the opening term. That lead grew to 10-2 before Jocelyn Willoughby hit Sydney’s first field with just over four minutes to play. With plenty of fouls being called, the Flames, whose intensity on the offensive boards and defensive end stepped up, made the most of their chances at the line to draw level 16-all at the first break.
In the opening stages of the second, the two sides traded baskets – with Keely Froling doing the heavy lifting for the Flames inside the paint and Willoughby nailing a triple, which saw $50 donated to Share The Dignity by Cygnett (which happens every time a three-pointer is hit this round). Those two and the exceptional play on both ends by Tiana Mangakahia helped the Flames take the 31-28 advantage midway through the period. A late flurry by the hosts, including a triple by Kayla Thornton, put the Flyers up 34-31 at half-time.
Shane Heal’s side opened the third with 12 of the first 17 points, to lead by six before the hosts rattled off 10 straight, forcing the Flames mentor to call a time-out. That stemmed the hosts’ run, as the re-injection of Mangakahia into the game helped the Flames go on their own 6-0 run before regaining the lead soon after. More foul trouble (including the early fouling out of Maddi Rocci) by the Flyers and clutch free-throws by Willoughby ensured the visitors lead 61-57 at the final change.
That lead was evaporated quickly, with the hosts chalking up the first 10 points of the term. Things got went from bad to worse for the harbour city side, as Rebecca Cole started to work her magic and scored 14 quick points for the Flyers – as the hosts raced out to a 78-64 lead with four to play. But the Flames never gave up and clawed it back to an eight-point game behind big-time baskets from Mangakahia. But despite bringing it back to a two-possession game, late free-throws by Thornton sealed the Flyers’ 82-75 triumph.
Where the match was decided
The biggest factor on the game was the Flyers’ fouls (27 compared to the Flames’ 18), which gifted the Flames 28 foul shots, with the team hitting 26 of them – which kept the visitors in the contest.
Combine that with statistical advantages field goal percentage (48-38), rebounds (38-34), assists (21-8), steals (9-7), blocks (8-0), points off turnovers (29-19), bench points (12-2) and fast-break points (12-6) proved too much to overcome for the Flames.
Just when it appeared the Flames had momentum heading into the fourth period, the hosts stepped it up a notch and forced numerous turnovers by Sydney, to open the term on a 21-3 run – thanks to 14 from the hot hand of Bec Cole. This proved to be a match-winning 5.42-minute period for the hosts, who went on to record their third victory of WNBL23.
Player of the game
Sydney skipper Keely Froling toiled hard all night and led from the front with a team-high 20 points, to go with three rebounds and one steal.
She was well supported by Willoughby (19 points) and Mangakahia (17) in the loss.
Next up for Heal’s side, who are now 0-4, is their first home game of the WNBL23 season, where they’ll play Bendigo at Qudos Bank Arena from 4.30pm AEDT on Sunday.
This round four fixture, part of the WNBL’s Fighting Period Poverty Round, will be game two of the Hoops Capital double-header on Sunday – with the Kings taking on the 36ers from 2pm.
If fans want to donate to Share The Dignity, they can do so here.