Understrength Flames unable to slow dominant Lynx
Shooting woes, defensive issues, and a potentially serious injury to Alex Wilson conspired to deliver a Brydens Sydney Uni Flames side already missing Alex Bunton a heavy 113-67 defeat to a red-hot Perth Lynx side. After a tight first quarter, the Lynx used a 31-11 second term to build a substantial margin before kicking on in the second half.
Steals on the first two defensive possessions gave the Flames some early momentum, and with sharpshooters Alex Wilson and Belinda Snell hot from outside to start, an 8-2 lead quickly eventuated. However, the game quickly evened out and soon enough, a couple of ill-advised passes from the Flames led to points for the Lynx and a 15-10 Perth lead midway through the opening term. In a physical first quarter, it was the visitors who responded to the situation the better, getting to the rim regularly and earning a number of trips to the line. But the Flames, led by Brittany Smart’s 10 points, took enough of their chance in the opening term to trail by just five at 27-22 down after a quarter.
The theme of early turnovers continued into the second quarter as both teams coughed up possession in the opening minute of the term. A spectacular close-range finish from Ali Schwagmeyer put the Lynx up 32-25, and with the visitors getting plenty of traction from their transition offence, the margin quickly hit double digits as the Flames added just three points in the first four minutes of the second quarter before coach Cheryl Chambers called a timeout with her team down 37-25.
Maddie O’Hehir came into the game and immediately made an impact on the scoreboard, finishing off the back of a Belinda Snell pass, but the Lynx continued to take advantage inside, driving to the basket at every opportunity. Despite the growing margin, O’Hehir once again showed a glimpse of her potential with a tough drive and finish with a floater in the lane, but the halftime score read 58-33 after the Lynx dominated with a 31-11 second term with the Flames hitting just 4 of 19 from the field for the term.
The Flames’ shooting woes continued with three missed shots on the opening possession alone, whilst the Lynx knocked down their first shot of the second half with Asia Taylor’s midrange jumper. Mercifully, Alex Wilson found the bottom of the net from deep, but Taylor continued to hit that midrange shot to keep the Lynx’s score ticking over.
Soon after though, the Flames’ predicament on the scoreboard took a backseat as Alex Wilson went down after attempting to step through to get a pass away near midcourt. Following a lengthy delay, the Flames sharpshooter was helped off court, and would not return for the rest of the game.
The Lynx were hardly sympathetic to the Flames’ situation, continuing to rack up points, but Sarah Graham came on for Wilson and quickly knocked down a three. Soon after, Tupaea was forced off as the Flames’ rotten luck with injuries looked to be snowballing at a rapid pace, with Susi Walmsley entering the game for the first time. If there was to be a silver lining though, it came in the form of the performance of Maddie O’Hehir, who looked every bit a WNBL player in her time on court. Despite the team’s best efforts with both Wilson and Tupaea off court, the Flames went into the final quarter down 87-49.
Tupaea returned to the game to open the final quarter, but with so many regular starters out and the game effectively over, the Flames continued to find it tough to create any sort of rhythm on offence, particularly as the Lynx continued to apply pressure. First-year player Maddy Norris was given an extended run in the final term, providing the young starlet with vital experience against two of the top frontcourt players in the competition in Asia Taylor and Kayla Steindl.
Some late baskets from Sarah Graham, including a three and a pair of pretty pull-up jumpers, provided another positive in a tough night for the Flames as the 200-game veteran tallied 14 points for the evening to finish as the team’s top scorer. However, this game belonged to the Lynx for all bar the opening minute, with the visitors running out 113-67 victors.
Tahlia Tupaea and Sarah Graham finished the game as equal top scorers with 14 points, with Brittany Smart adding 12 and collecting 6 rebounds. The Lynx finished with five players in double figures, led by Asia Taylor’s 27 points and 21 for Brittany McPhee as the visitors outshot the Flames 57% to 29% from the field whist winning the rebound count 53-37.
Sydney Uni Flames 67 (Tupaea 14p, 3r; Graham 14p, Smart 12p, 6r)
Perth Lynx 113 (Taylor 27p, 7r; McPhee 21p, 5r; Schwagmeyer 19p, 7r)