Graham Croker

Winning at home and away in the Women’s National Basketball League double-header weekend has resulted in the ACUVUE Sydney University Flames moving into outright fourth on the competition ladder.
The Flames hosted Adelaide Link Lightning on Friday night and posted a 77-62 win. They then travelled to Bendigo and came away with a tight 70-69 result on Sunday afternoon – making it five wins on the trot.
And both wins were without captain Natalie Porter who is out for an extended period with a broken wrist.
Suzy Batkovic-Brown led the Flames onslaught on Friday with a game-high 27 points to go with 16 rebounds, while Mikaela Dombkins celebrated her 100th WNBL appearance game with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Adelaide’s Cayla Francis was the only Lighting player to break double figures with 17 points, while Angela Marino scored nine, and Rebecca Duke and Renae Camino each contributed eight.
Adelaide took the initiative in the first quarter and a three-pointer on the bell from Mia Newley giving the visitors a 24-19 advantage at the first break.
The Flames turned it around in the second term successfully shutting down Adelaide to seven points while they piled on 17, mostly through Batkovic-Brown and Ellie Manou.
The Flames extended their lead to 14 points at the end of the third term before Batkovic-Brown and Deanne Butler went on a scoring spree in the final term.
Coach Karen Dalton said the key to the win came in the second term turnaround.
The Flames made it five wins in a row when they ended Bendigo’s winning streak on Sunday.
With Eva Afeaki, Batkovic-Brown, Dombkins and former Bendigo-junior Deanna Smith all making an impression in the first term, the visitors led 26-18 at the break.
But Bendigo went on a 16-point run in the second term to hold at four-point advantage at the main break. They maintained that advantage in a tough third term but the Flames finally edged ahead in a nail-biting final quarter.
Dalton was far from impressed with second term turnaround.
“We played ‘D’ in the first quarter and we didn’t play a lick of ‘D’ in the second quarter,” Dalton said. “We allowed them to score 41 points in the first half, but we addressed that at half-time and we’re really happy to come out with a win after a really hard game on Friday night.
“It’s been a tough month and we’re on the road again next week, but that’s our fifth win in a row, so I’m really happy about that.”
Sydney University Flames will meet Canberra Capitals at Southern Cross Stadium, Canberra on Sunday with a 2pm tip-off.

ACUVUE Sydney University Flames 77 (Suzy Batkovic-Brown 27, Mikaela Dombkins 17, Deanne Butler 11) d Adelaide Link Lightning 62 (Cayla Francis 17, Angela Marino 9, Rebecca Duke 8, Renae Camino 8) at ACUVUE Sports Hall, Sydney.
ACUVUE Sydney University Flames 70 (Deanna Smith 17, Suzy Batkovic-Brown 14, Mikaela Dombkins 14) d Bendibo Bank Spirit 69 (Kristi Harrower 23, Chelsea Aubry 16, Jasmine Finnigan 14) at Bendigo Stadium.