Brydens Sydney Uni Flames played a convincing first half of basketball against the reigning premiers, the Bendigo Spirit on Friday night before a crippling third quarter led the team to lose momentum and fall to an eleven point defeat.
The scoring power of Olympian and former Sydney Uni Flame Belinda Snell was too much for the home side as she collected 41 points in a truly inspired individual offensive display. She shot 15-22 from the field and collected 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal.
A quality first quarter of basketball from both teams saw the Flames trade baskets with the visitors before Katie Ebzery ended the term with six unanswered points in a row helping Sydney Uni to take a three point lead at the break, 23 – 20.
The second term opened in a similar fashion, with momentum clearly building in the direction of the home team, as the Flames extended their lead to nine points on the back of the Flames imports Ruef and Johnson combining with Ebzery again on the offensive end.
The lead carried to as many as 12 points but again Belinda Snell stamped her authority on the match with two made free throws and a three pointer just before half time, reducing the margin to five, 49 -44.
It was a frustrating third quarter for the Flames which saw them only score seven points, all of which occurred in the first six minutes before Bendigo kept Sydney Uni completely scoreless for the remainder of the term.
This unfortunate lapse by the team saw them chasing after the reigning premiers in the fourth quarter, which was a difficult place to come back from when competing against such a tough side.
Despite Ruef and Ebzery carrying the torch for the Flames offensively, the Flames could not shut down Bendigo’s offensive threats in Snell and Kelsey Griffin who also racked up 20 points.
A couple of turnovers and missed opportunities for the Flames saw the lead growing in Bendigo’s favour, and with three minutes to go the home side was down by seven points, ultimately resulting in defeat, 74 – 85.
For the Flames the teams shining light was Katie Ebzery who collected 18 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals, while Mikaela Ruef was also outstanding with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists.
Unfortunately the team sorely missed league veteran Rohanee Cox, who remains out of action after having surgery on her broken nose. The Flames also could not compete with the Bendigo side’s exceptional 48 per cent team shooting from the field despite matching them in other statistical areas and being more protective with the ball.
Despite the loss, the Flames should be confident that if they can string four solid quarters of basketball together they are well able to match teams like league favourites Bendigo. This is something they will no doubt be working toward as they prepare for their match this Saturday against first placed Townsville. The Flames will be defending their home court and looking to re-join the winners circle at 1pm on Saturday 13 December at Brydens Stadium.