Graham Croker

The ACUVUE Sydney University Flames posted a win and a loss on the tough road trip to Perth and Adelaide for the opening two rounds of the 2009-10 Women’s National Basketball League.
After accounting for Perth Lynx 73-61 in a bright start to the season at Perry Lakes Stadium on Friday night, the Flames suffered an upset 86-73 loss to Adelaide Lightning at Distinctive Homes Dome on Sunday.
An explosive first quarter paved the way for the win over Perth Lynx, when the new-look Flames roster skipped away to a 22-7 lead in the first term and held off a late charge from the hosts to run out 12-points winners.
Former Lynx MVP winner Deanna Smith relished her return to Perry Lakes with a 17-point haul for the Flames. That was matched by Nat Porter, who has returned to the league with Sydney University this year, while Texas A&M graduate Takia Starks posted a team high 15 points for the Lynx.
With the Lynx forced to play catch-up basketball after their poor first quarter, when they shot just 11 per cent from the field, the Flames dominated proceedings at both ends of the court.
The Flames extended their advantage to 19 points at the main break but went off the boil in the third term when the Lynx – thanks to Starks’ 10 points for the period – pegged the margin back to 54-50.
Flames coach Karen Dalton switched to a zone defence in the final term, forcing the hosts to shoot from outside the key as the Flames posted a well-deserved away win.
A 29-point haul from Opals centre Suzy Batkovic-Brown in her debut for the Flames and her first appearance in the WNBL since 2002 wasn’t enough to get Sydney University home against Adelaide.
Batkovic-Brown posted a 10-point first quarter but Adelaide went to the first break leading 20-18. Opal Jess Foley and Angela Matino bagged three-pointers just before the main break to put the hosts up 43-32.
Adelaide extended the lead to 71-53 in the third term before Sydney University fought back to win the final quarter by five points but victory was already in hand for the Lightning.
The Flames will host Dandenong at ACUVUE Sports Hall in the Sydney University Sport and Fitness Centre at 7pm this Saturday.

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 73 (Deanna Smith 17, Natalie Porter 17, Mikaela Dombkins 15) d PERTH LYNX 61 (Takia Starks 15, Danielle Campbell 14, Melissa Marsh 11).
ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 86 (Jessica Foley 25, Angela Marino 15, Cayla Francis 14) d SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 73 (Suzy Batkovic-Brown 29, Natalie Porter 21, Deanna Smith 10).