Flames lose to Flyers in George’s 350th

February 18, 2024 | Sydney Flames news

The Sydney Flames fought hard but lost their blockbuster clash with the Southside Flyers 81-78 at Qudos Bank Arena.

The defeat, in front of a Flames standalone record crowd of 6,834 for the club’s ‘Thank You’ Lauren Jackson game, sees the Hoops Capital side fall to fourth spot with one round to play.

Match summary 

Didi Richards and Paige Bradley lit the fire early, shutting down efforts from Mercedes Russell before Lauren Jackson stepped up to put the Flyers ahead. Russell came with a layup to extend the visitor’s lead. Threes for Nicholson and Cayla George (in her 350th WNBL game) saw the Flames back on top, with a lay-up from George extending their lead to six (18-12). Fouls in the Flyer’s favour and contributions from Jackson and Russell saw the game all tied up, Jackson coming with two to see the lead with the Flyers. A last-second three for Bradley had Sydney down by two after the first (23-21).

Jackson and Jasmine Dickey worked to extend the visitor’s lead with back-to-back baskets seeing them up by six. Three for Bradley put the Flames back in the game, her efforts matched by Maddi Rocci to keep Sydney at a distance. Jackson continued her masterclass, which brought the deficit to 10, with Shaniece Swain and Lauren Jackson knocking this gap down. Leilani Mitchell put up three, though an eight-point run from Nicholson, and three for Bradley put the Flames up by three going into half-time (45-42).  

Traded threes opened up the second half, following a minute of no points from either side. Mitchell fought to turn the lead for the Flyers, but her efforts were cancelled out by Nicholson and Richards, as the Flames extended their lead to five. Contributions from Rocci and Micthell placed the lead in Southside’s hands. Russell extended their lead to three, met by George who tied the board. Dickey, Nyadiew Puoch and Bec Cole worked to bring the lead back to Southside, Madgen and Richards clutched up to see the game all tied up going into the final minutes (62-62). 

Baskets from both sides kept the score equal, Bradley and George breaking it in the Flames favour with uninterrupted contributions. Russell fought to bring the lead back to the visitor’s side, shut down by George. The lead swung back and forth, due to efforts from Puoch, Cole and Richards, the gap sitting at just one-point. Three for Rocci built this gap up to four, fouls in Sydney’s favour bringing it to two. A last-minute jump shot from Russell, and fouls in Southside’s favour, saw the Flyers take home a three-point win over the Flames (81-78).

Where the match was decided 

Statistical advantages in rebounds (41-38), assists (19-16) and bench points (16-7), all aided in Southside’s win over the Flames. 

The other stat that stood out was the fact the Flames only shot five foul shots compared to 13 by the visitors.

Key moment 

An early lead in the first and a final quarter run from the Flyers had Sydney unable to come back, with strong defence maintaining the gap and allowing Southside to walk away with a win. 

Player of the game 

Nicholson and Richards each bought in 20 points for the Flames, with Nicholson also bringing in 4 assists to earn player of the game. 

George (14 points and 14 boards) and Bradley (15), also brought in double digits and strong contributions for Sydney. 

What’s next

Guy Molloy’s side, who are now 11-10, head to Townsville on Sunday to take on the Fire in a must-win game.

A win in the 4pm AEDT clash would lock in a spot in the post-season, while a loss would mean the harbour city side would have to wait on other results to go their way.