A thrilling first home game for the Brydens Sydney Uni Flames

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O’Hea fever spread through the christening of Brydens Stadium at Sydney Uni Sports & Aquatic Centre on Friday night as the Dandenong Rangers won the WNBL game 85-79.

The six-point margin wasn’t a fair reflection of the contest given the tight and see-sawing nature of the match.

The Flames led 26-24 at quarter-time, Dandenong 48-46 at half-time and it was 66-all at three-quarter-time.

Flames coach Karen Dalton summed things up succinctly when she described it as a “winnable” game.

Rangers guard Jenna O’Hea finished with 29 points and doused the Flames  inside and out, including five from six three-pointers.

Otherwise it was an even spread for Dandenong with Leilani Mitchell (12), Alice Kunek (12) Natalie Novosel (11) and Kayla Pedersen (10) all making solid contributions.

Rohanee Cox with 19 top-scored for the Flames and she was ably supported by Casey Samuels (15) Katie-Rae Ebzery  (10) and Lauren King (10).

The Flames burned brightly from the start with a fast-passing game setting them up for a stylish celebration of the first game on their new pine. 

But as portent of how things would pan out, O’Hea was already in double figures (10) at quarter-time despite the Flames’ two-point advantage.

Slowly but surely the Rangers took command of the new territory, most notably displayed by Brigitte Ardrossi’s two first-half rejects.

The Flames went to a press with three and half minutes remaining in the first half, but also ended up in foul trouble.

Alicia Poto banked a long three-pointer off the glass to give the Flames a 46-44 lead with half-time closing, but Rangers’  Kayla Pederson made Uni pay for some lapses at both ends of the court and Dandenong went to the main break 48-46 leaders.

It was 66-all at three-quarter time and it seemed the momentum was with the Flames, but alas it was not to be.

As Dalton said “Dandenong are a talented team and some defensive lapses and boxing out cost us.”

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