Despite knocking off WNBL heavyweights the Adelaide Lightning over the weekend for their first win and impressing Flames Head Coach Karen Dalton with their most complete performance this season, the Southern Design Sydney Uni Flames arguably face their toughest test to date this Friday night as they hold home court advantage over the table topping Bendigo Spirit.
The Spirit, who encountered their first loss of the season against Canberra over the weekend, possess plenty of scoring options, none of them more dangerous than 2012 London Opal bronze medallist Kristi Harrower.
Harrower has been rampant this season, averaging 20 points per game and hitting just under 50% of her shots, and her battle with fellow premier WNBL point guard Alicia Poto will be intriguing. The Flames captain was at her inspirational best against the Lightning on Saturday night, scoring 11 points and contributing seven assists for the victorious Flames.
Assisting Poto at the back of the court will once again be Katie-Rae Ebzery, who had one of her most productive offensive games of the season on Saturday night, scoring 20 points and also dishing off seven assists.
Scoring points certainly wasn’t a problem for the Flames last weekend (they scored 94), but what impressed Dalton the most was their defensive rebounding.
“The girls were very good on Saturday at limiting the amount of offensive rebounds that Adelaide pulled down, and our defensive rebounding will again be the key to gaining a win against one the best teams in the league,” explained Dalton.
Spirit forward Gabrielle Richards will be another player that the Flames have to stop, having averaged over 17 points per game and 10 rebounds. Ellyce Ironmonger (who last week scored 12 points and pulled down six rebounds) and Ellie Manou will be assigned the tough job of limiting her impact on the game.
Flames import April Sykes will be hoping that she can pick up where she left off last week. The versatile guard/forward scored a game high 26 points and was extremely impressive from beyond the 3-point line, hitting five 3-point bombs on Saturday night.
Bendigo will have their own WNBA star this Friday night, as Kelsey Griffin steps in her first game with the club. The 188cm forward was drafted third overall in the 2010 WNBA draft, and will no doubt further boost the Spirit’s already strong line up.
Come out and support the Flames on Friday night and watch the girl’s battle it out against competition leaders the Bendigo Spirit at the Sydney Uni Sports & Aquatic Centre (SUSAC).
Tickets are on sale from 6pm on the night and tipoff is at 7pm.
You can also support the Flames on Twitter @SydUniFlames or Facebook Sydney Uni Flames WNBL.