Game review: Townsville take the win but Flames show fight

February 6, 2022 | Sydney Flames news

The Brydens Sydney Uni Flames had a tough afternoon against the Townsville Fire, who stole homecourt 85-66 at Qudos Bank Arena.

The Flames were without Shyla Heal and Lauren Mansfield. Heal has been selected for the Opals team for the Women’s FIBA World Cup Qualifiers and Mansfield will most of the season with a calf injury, leaving the Flames without a point guard.

In their absences and Funda Nakkasoglu stepped up again, with Keely Froling being our anchor on both ends. Froling scored 13 points and had eight rebounds while Funda continued her hot shooting from the last game.

Funda came out the gate with purpose, she scored back-to-back threes to give the Flames a push at the start of the game. Froling added another three and the Flames were challenging the Fire on both ends of the court with stout defence from Kiera Rowe and Kalani Purcell.

The Fire responded by running the break, led by Monique Billings’ athleticism and defence. The Fire scored at the basket with ease, off the back of Billings’ 25 points, she made it a one-possession game in the second quarter.

Townsville took charge with their three-point shooting, making two in the quarter. The Flames struggled in the half-court without Mansfield or Heal and had to rely on their defence to stay in the game.

The Flames’ stagnate half-court offence bled into the Fire’s full-court attack, making it difficult to maintain a steady stream of points.

Rowe and Funda kept shooting well and made sure the Flames stayed within reach at the end of the first half.

Townsville guard Stephanie Reid was the catalyst of the Fire’s turnaround in the second half, she scored 10 points and had multiple threes in the third quarter. The Flames clawed back, getting the game within 15 points but Townsville overwhelmed the Flames, with three scorers in double digits.

With Reid’s explosion and Billings continuing to play both ends the Fire closed the game out in the early stages of the fourth quarter.

Post-game coach Shane Heal and Katie Deeble spoke with Flames media on the game.

“I was really proud of the girls to be up at half-time,” Heal said.

“We played four development players, like Katie, and it’s great to reward them for their improvement with the team at practice.

“But you’re never going to win too many games with 19 turnovers.”

Coach Heal spoke on how difficult the game was without Shyla Heal and Lauren Mansfield.

“When you lose two players who put a lot of points on the board and play great defence, it’s tough,” he said.

“It makes it a little bit harder for everyone else to pick up what they provide, but at stages we do that.”

Flames development player Katie Deeble played close to 20 minutes against Townsville and spoke about what it was like to play against a full-strength Townsville Fire.

“It is such a good feeling to get out there and play,” she said.

“I have the full support of Shane, all the other coaches and girls, it’s a really good feeling.

“Listening to all our girls and backing myself on the court was a good experience.”

The two teams will be doing battle again in short time as the Flames travels to Townsville for a game on Saturday, February 12, at 7.30pm in the Townsville Entertainment Centre. Watch the game on Kayo.