Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames kept their Women’s National Basketball League finals aspirations alive with a nail-biting two-point win over Bendigo Spirit at the Bendigo Stadium on Saturday night.
The Flames triumphed 72-70 and grabbed fifth spot on the WNBL ladder with one competition round to play, leaving the battle for fifth and sixth finals berths hanging for another week.
Adelaide have the minor premiership wrapped up, with Bulleen, Dandenong, Townsville, Sydney Uni and Logan making up the top six, and Bendigo loitering with intent in seventh place.
But Logan have two games to play – against Bendigo and Bulleen – to compete the 22-round season, while the Flames come up against second-last-placed West Coast.
The permutations indicate that whoever finishes seventh out of the Flames, Logan and Bendigo will be cursing their luck for another season.
The Flames held a six-point lead with a minute to go on Saturday and looked to have the game in the bag when Heather Oliver slotted a three-pointer and Kristi Harrower backed it up with a two-pointer for the hosts to reduce the margin to one.
But a steadying free-throw from Belinda Snell wrapped up a win for the Flames and a top five place.
It was a fitting basket from Snell, who top-scored for the visitors with 24 points to go with eight rebounds. Lauren King finished with 13 points for the winners, while Amy Denson double-doubled with 10 points and 10 boards.
Tess Madgen top-scored for the Spirit, finishing with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Gabe Richards finished with 13 points and seven rebounds.
The Flames will host West Coast at the Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre court on Friday night, with a 7pm start. The elimination finals will be played on February 22 with venues yet to be determined.
Women’s National Basketball League – Round 21
Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames 72 (Belinda Snell 24, Lauren King 13, Amy Denson 10) d Bendigo Spirit 70 (Tess Magden 18, Gabrielle Richards 13) at Bendigo Stadium on Saturday night.