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A solid off-season preparation and some astute recruiting saw Sydney Uni Flames start the 2011-12 Women’s National Basketball League season on a positive note, with a 79-61 win over the Australian Institute of Sport at SUSFC on Friday night.

The home crowd were treated to the return of two favourites to the Flames ranks, with the return of Belinda Snell and Alicia Poto to join a roster containing Natalie Stafford, Jaimee Kennedy, Lauren King, Eva Afeaki, Katie-Rae Ebzery, Gemma Curry, Ellyce Ironmonger, Amy Denson, Erin Todd, Kristen Forbes and Kristen Barnes.

And the pair didn’t take long to make their presence felt, with Snell scoring 21 points to go along with nine rebounds and eight assists, and Poto adding 10 assists and five steals in the win.

Import Amy Denson led the scoring for the Flames with 23 points, while Olivia Thompson top-scored with 18 points and a team equal-high of nine rebounds for the visitors. AIS were also well served by Alex Bunton with 14 points and Rebecca Cole who dished out six assists to go with her 13 points.

The Flames led by seven points at the first break and went to the main break with a 37-29 lead. Despite the rebound count remaining close for the entire contest, the Flames went to the free-throw line 28 times to 10, and after a third consecutive quarter of hanging in with the Flames, turnovers from the AIS began to mount as the Flames edged to victory.

Sydney University go on the road this week for a round 2 match against Adelaide Lightning at the Dome in Adelaide, tipping of a 7.30pm on Friday night.

Adelaide have also recruited well in the off-season with Jo Hill, Suzy Batkovic, Jenni Screen, Amy Lewis and Kelsey Ireland joining the roster.

They made a positive start to the season with a 97-70 win over West Coast Waves and will provide stiff opposition at home against the Flames.

Scoreboard

Round 1: Sydney Uni Flames 79 (Amy Denson 23, Belinda Snell 21, Katie-Rae Ebzery 15) defeated AIS 61 (Olivia Thompson 18, Alex Bunton 14, Rebecca Cole 13) at Sydney University Sports and Fitness Centre.

Round 2: v Adelaide Lightning at the Dome, Adelaide, 7.30pm on October 14.

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