Lightning storm back to defeat Flames

January 5, 2024 | Sydney Flames news

The Sydney Flames’ three-game win streak is over after falling 74-67 to the Adelaide Lightning at Adelaide Arena on Friday, January 5. 

The round 10 fixture saw Cayla George (who now sits on 4,781 points) become the competition’s fourth all-time leading scorer, overtaking Belinda Snell on 4770 career points. 

Match summary  

In a slow start to the match, only Didik Richards and former Flame Jocelyn Willoughby scored in the opening two minutes. Scores by Cayla George and Paige Bradley kept Sydney in front before a quick 6-0 gave the hosts a 10-7 lead. But two-point buckets by Kiera Rowe, Richards and George in quick succession, followed by a Lauren Nicholson and-one helped the Hoops Capital side regain their ascendancy (17-16). Not only was reigning MVP George having an impact in the scoring column, but she also produced numerous sharp passes and blocks in the first term. Despite this, a late flurry by Liz Tonks gave the hosts a 24-19 lead at the first break. 


Four straight points to open the second extended the Lightning’s lead to nine. Paige Bradley was doing all she could to reduce the margin, but it did little to stem the flow of the game – as the game blew out to 34-21 midway through the period following as Isobel Borlaise. The harbour city side’s inability to convert around the rim hurt their chances of closing the gap but triples by George and Emma Clarke offset that. A second shot from downtown by the former saw her become the fourth all-time leading scorer in WNBL history – as the Flames trialled 36-33 at half-time. 


The radar of Australian Opal George remained locked in in the third, as did Clarke’s – which kept the scoreboard ticking over fort Guy Molloy’s side. Richards’ ability to the line and convert from the charity stripe levelled the scores at 43-all. A free-throw by George put Sydney’s noses back in front before back-to-back drives by Nicholson’s extended that. The energetic play of Houston-born Richards powered the visitors to a 22-11 quarter and therefore an eight-point lead at the final change. 

Willoughby’s early banked three was quickly cancelled out by yet another corner triple by Clarke. But when Nicholsson was forced from the court with a nose injury, Adelaide rattled off seven straight points. A three-point play by Isabelle Bourne tied up proceedings before Tonks made it 63-60 in the hosts’ favour. Adelaide’s lead grew to as many as six in the final minutes. An and-one by Clarke gave Sydney a flicker of hope down the stretch but ultimately, they couldn’t get the stops they needed and fell by seven points. 

Where the match was decided  

The Flames lost the encounter due to inferior statistical categories of field goal percentage (45-38) and free-throw percentage (69-61) – with numerous others being close. 

Key moment  

With the match on the line, a 27-12 final quarter by Adelaide powered them to their fourth win of WNBL24. 

Player of the game 

Record-breaker George (who also moved into 12th place all-time in games played (343 – moving pat Mia Murray on 342) was the standout for the Flames, double-doubling (18 points and 13 boards) along with six dimes, two blocks and two steals. 

Not to be outdone was Richards, who scored an equal career-high 21 points, combined with seven rebounds, two assists and two steals, and Clarke – who tallied 14 points, six boards, four steals and two dimes.

What’s next  

Molloy’s side, who are now 7-6, now return to Sydney to take on Melbourne as part of the club’s third double-header at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday. 

The WNBL fixture tips off at 1.15pm before the Kings take on Brisbane from 3.45pm – with tickets available here.