Brydens Sydney Uni Flames kept their National Women’s Basketball League semi-final hopes flickering with a win and a loss on the road at the weekend.
The Flames started their cross-country trip with a stop-over at Adelaide on Friday night only to suffer a 72-60 loss to the seventh-placed Lightning at the Adelaide Arena.
That placed added importance on their Saturday night match against West Coast at the West Australian Basketball Centre.
With Katie-Rae Ebzery leading the way with 22 points, the Flames ended up 93-85 winners, with one match to play leading into the semi-finals.
And what a match it will be. The Flames will host ladder leaders Townsville Fire at Brydens Stadium, Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre, this Saturday, February 14, with a 7pm tip-off, and a semi-finals berth at stake.
Townsville are clear leaders with a 16-4 season, ahead of Bendigo (15-6), Dandenong (12-8) and the Flames (10-11). But Melbourne (10-11) and University of Canberra (10-11) also have semi-final aspirations, making the Flames’ final round match a win at all costs affair.
Should they get through the minor semi-final between three and four will be played on Saturday February 21, with the major semi-final, between one and two, played on Sunday February 22.
The Final will be played from 3pm on Sunday, March 1, with the Grand Final scheduled for 3pm on Sunday, March 8.
Adelaide’s Laura Hodges was outstanding for the Lightning on Friday night, ending the match with a top score of 20 points, eight rebounds and one assist, while team-mates Alex Bunton (14 points) and Angela Marino (10) were both strong on the board.
The Flames had a strong performer in Kate Oliver, who ended the match with 19 points, while also leading the board with eight rebounds and two blocks.
The Flames made amends in Perth the following night when Katie-Rae Ebzery (22 points) and import Paris Johnson (20) led them to a crucial 93-85 result.
After an evenly matched opening term, an inspired second-quarter burst from youngster Tahlia Tupaea and Johnson – and the accurate shooting of Ebzery – blew the game open before the Flames held off a spirited final quarter challenge.
“We needed it, especially after last night,” relieved Sydney Uni coach Shannon Seebohm said.
“With Mikaela (Ruef) being out injured we need all our bigs stepping up and Paris did a great job tonight.”
Along with her 20 points, she finished with eight boards and two blocks.
“We just preached being aggressive, both ends of the floor,” Seebohm said. “Offensively we wanted to penetrate and we knew if we did a good job of that we could put them under the pump a little bit.
“Defensively it was the same thing, just stuck to the way we’ve played all year, got up the floor and got after people and just tried to be disruptive.”
National Women’s Basketball League – Round 16
Adelaide Lightning 72 (Laura Hodges 20, Alex Bunton 14, Angela Marino 10) d Brydens Sydney Uni Flames 60 (Kate Oliver 19, Katie-Rae Ebzery 11) at Adelaide Arena on Friday night.
Brydens Sydney Uni Flames 93 (Katie-Rae Ebzery 22, Paris Johnson 20, Casey Samuels 14, Leilani Mitchell 14) d West Coast Waves 85 (Louella Tomlinson 16, Deanna Smith 15, Sarah Graham 10) at the West Australian Basketball Centre on Saturday night.