12.10.2008 – Graham Croker

The ACUVUE Sydney University Flames came home with a win and a loss from their first road trip of the season; a double-header in Canberra.

After losing 84-74 to the Canberra Capitals at the AIS Arena on Friday night, the Flames won their first game of the season at the same venue on Saturday night, when they held on for an 82-79 result over the Australian Institute of Sport.

They now sit on one from three, having lost their opening game of the season 74-72 to Adelaide. And the season doesn’t get any easier for the Flames with a Round 4 game in Townsville this Friday night.

Flames captain Alicia Poto was a standout in the win over AIS. She played every minute and finished with a game-high 29 points to go with eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block.

Elizabeth Cambage scored a team-high 18 points in just 16 minutes for the AIS and Kate Gaze hit three 3-pointers to finish with 16 points for the match.

The AIS played well offensively in the first half but couldn’t contain Poto and her team-mates Eva Afeaki, who finished with 18 points, and Sally Potocki, who contributed 16.

The Flames led 51-40 at half-time but buckled in the third quarter when the hosts outscored them 21-9 to go to the final break with a one-point advantage.

Key personnel from both sides were fouled out in the fourth term, with the AIS losing Kelsey Ireland, Caitlin Rowe and Elizabeth Cambage, while the Flames lost Afeaki.

The Flames ground it our and were up by one point with 35 seconds on the clock when Poto was fouled while making a drive for the basket. She converted both free throws from the foul line to seal the match.

On Friday night, the Canberra Capitals continued their perfect start to the season with a 10-point win over the Flames.

The hosts dominated at both ends of the court to collect their third win of the season 84-74.

Former Flame Michelle Musselwhite collected six points and five rebounds in the opening five minutes to set up a 12-point buffer for the Capitals at quarter time.

Poto tried to keep her team in the contest but Canberra still went to the main break with a 21-point lead.

The Flames hit back in the second half and at one stage closed the gap to eight points, thanks to a 21-point contribution from American import Lindsey Pluimer.

But it wasn’t enough to thwart the Capitals, who have taken over championship favouritism after three rounds.

Musselwhite and Abby Bishop top-scored for the Capitals with 15-points apiece, while Bishop also pulled in 13 rebounds.

Flames coach Karen Dalton said her team lost the match through poor defence in the first half.

“What can you say except it was a disgraceful first half from us,” Dalton said. “You can’t play defence like that and give them 51-points and expect to win.

“Full credit to the girls for the second half fight-back, but we have a lot to address and you can’t give away that many points.”

Canberra Capitals 84 (Abby Bishop 15, Michelle Musselwhite 15, Jess Bibby 14) d Sydney University Flames 74 (Lindsey Pluimer 21, Alicia Poto 21, Eva Afeaki 13) at AIS Arena, Canberra.

Sydney University Flames 82 (Alicia Poto 29, Eva Afeaki 18, Sally Potocki 16) d AIS 79 (Elizabeth Cambage 18, Kate Gaze 16, Tess Madgen 10) at AIS Arena, Canberra.