Graham Croker

Despite losing a close encounter of the third kind to Logan Thunder in Brisbane on Sunday, the ACUVUE Sydney University Flames are still a chance of making the semi-finals with five rounds of the 2008-09 Women’s National Basketball League to be played.
Second-last placed Logan gained some revenge with a close-fought 69-66 result over the Flames, who had won nail-biters in their previous two encounters this season. A Rhonda Price bucket with 22 second on the clock helped the Flames triumph 83-82 in their October clash, while an Alicia Poto three-pointer earned them a win in extra-time after the scores had been locked at 56-all at full-time in their December clash.
So it was no surprise that Logan came out firing to extract some revenge on their home court at Insports Cornubia Park on Sunday.
They held sway of a close scoreline for much of the first half before the Flames gained the advantage just before the main break, to enter the sheds leading 38-37.
With Biancia Abbott and Holly Smith leading the way, the hosts regained the advantage in the third quarter to lead by three going into the final term.
In a gripping last quarter the Flames levelled proceedings at 62-all with four-and-a-half minutes remaining, but a Sarah Graham three-pointer two minutes from time proved decisive as the hosts held sway by three points.
Flames skipper Alicia Poto had the home crowd on the edge of their seats when her three-points bomb attempt just failed to tie the scores on the buzzer to send the game into over-time. It was that close – again.
Smith finished with a team-high 21 points for the winners to go with five rebounds; Abbott brought down seven rebounds and added four assists in a busy second half, and Graham hit five crucial three-pointers to go with four assists.
Despite being on the losing side, Eva Afeaki led the match scoring with 23 points, including 11 from 11 attempts from the free-throw line and six rebounds.
With Canberra Capitals leading the way and Adelaide Lightning, Townsville Fire and Bendigo Spirit making up the top four, the Flames are battling it out with Bendigo for fifth spot and a shot at the semi-finals.
The Flames’ home run includes games against Perth Lynx (Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre at 7pm this Saturday), Bendigo (Bendigo, January 30), Dandenong (SUSAC, February 7), Bendigo (SUSAC, February 13) and Dandenong Rangers (Hobart, February 20).

Logan Thunder 69 (Holly Smith 21, Sarah Graham 17, Natalie Purcell 12) def Sydney Uni Flames 66 (Eva Afeaki 23, Sally Potocki 13, Rhonda Price 12) at Insports Carnubia Park, Brisbane.