The Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames maintained second place on the Women’s National Basketball League ladder with a win and a loss on their trip to Melbourne at the weekend.
The Flames accounted for Bulleen Boomers 90-88 in a gripping contest at The Veneto Club in Bulleen on Friday night, before being dealt an 80-69 defeat at the hands of Dandenong at Dandenong Stadium on Saturday night.
Adelaide Link head the competition with nine wins from their 11 matches, with the Flames 8-3), Townsville (8-4), Bulleen (6-3), Dandenong (7-4) and Logan (5-4) making up the top six.
Friday night’s hit-out at the Veneto Club was a see-sawing affair until the final quarter when the Flames established what seemed like a winning 10-point lead with three minutes on the clock.
But the hosts hit back and a Liz Cambage basket tied the scores at 88 apiece with eight second remaining.
The Flames responded with a winning basket from Katie-Rae Ebzery, who netted the lay-in off a full court pass from Alicia Poto.
Belinda Snell once again topped the Flames scoring with a 30-point haul, 23 of which came in a furious opening 15 minutes of action. The Olympian also contributed eight rebounds, five assists and three steals, while Katie-Rae Ebzery added 16 points, and Amy Denson and Poto contributed 15 apiece for the winners.
Cambage led the way for the Boomers with 26 points and 14 rebounds, while point guard Sam Richards added 22 points and seven assists, and Rachel Jarry 21 points and nine rebounds.
It was a gutsy effort from the Flames, who lost forward Eva Afeaki to injury in the opening play of the game.
Afeaki was missed the following night when the Flames found the going too tough at Dandenong, where the Rangers secured the points on the back of a dominant performance from Kathleen MacLeod, who scored 15 points to go along with seven rebounds and 13 assists.
MacLeod received strong support from Steph Cumming and Jenna O’Hea with 15 points each, while their outstanding defensive game prevented the Flames from getting any hold on the contest. Indeed Amy Denson’s 15 points and 14 boards, and Katie Rae Ebzery’s 15 points kept Sydney in the game.
Although Belinda Snell opened the scoring with a three-pointer for the Flames, the hosts hit back to establish at 28-18 lead at the first break. They pushed the lead out to 23 points mid-way through the second term before Denson slotted eight points to reduce the margin to 47-32 at the main break.
As Alison Power reports, the Flames lifted their game in the third quarter and matched Dandenong basket-for-basket before being thwarted in the final three minutes when Snell was forced to sit out the rest of the quarter with four fouls.
Dandenong pushed their lead to 21 points to start the fourth quarter. Ebzery led a Sydney fight-back to narrow the gap to 11 points but just when they looked like getting back into the game, the athleticism of the Rangers’ Alison Downie kept the ball alive, allowing Dandenong second looks at the basket.
When Snell was fouled-out of the game, the Rangers were able to maintain their lead and run out 80-69 victors.
The Flames go on the road again this weekend when they take on the Canberra Capitals at AIS Stadium on Saturday, with a 1pm tip-off scheduled.
Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames 90 (Belinda Snell 30, Katie-Rae Ebzery 16, Amy Denson 15) d Bulleen Boomers 88 (Liz Cambage 30, Sam Richards 22, Rachel Jarry 21) at Bulleen Stadium.
Dandenong Rangers 80 (Steph Cumming 16, Kathleen MacLeod 15, Jenna O’Hea 15) d Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames 69 (Amy Denson 15, Katie-Rae Ebzery 15, Belinda Snell 12) at Dandenong Basketball Stadium.