A final quarter blitz from Rohanee Cox helped Brydens Sydney Uni Flames to an 89-80 win over Dandenong Rangers in their pulsating Women’s National Basketball League minor semi-final at Dandenong Stadium on Saturday.

Cox topscored for the Flames with 24 points, including 14 in the final 11 minutes to help haul in an 18-point deficit.

She was well assisted by Katie-Rae Ebzery (22 points and five rebounds), Parris Johnson (14 points and eight rebounds) and Mikaela Ruef (12 points and nine rebounds).

For Dandenong, American import Cappie Pondexter stepped up, amassing 27 points, while Aimie Clydesdale (14 points) was the only other Ranger to reach double figures.

“Rohanee’s the kind of player that, if you give her a sniff there’s no stopping her,” Flames coach Shannon Seebohm said.
“In the second half she got an open look and made it, and that was all she needed to really get it going.”

Dandenong led 26-20 at quarter-time and edged out to a 49-36 advantage at the main break. When Penny Taylor went down with an injury the wind momentarily went out of the home team’s sails, but Pondexter sliced through the defence and found Clydesdale for a deep triple to extend the margin to 18 with just four minutes to be played in the third period.

The Flames hit back through three-pointers from Tahlia Tupaea and Cox to cut the deficit to five points at the final break. Cox then hit back-to-back triples in the final term as the Flames drew level and then claimed the lead for the first time late in the match.

“It was awesome,” Seebohm said. “It’s unlucky for them that Penny got injured, but that’s basketball, it could have happened to us, and I’m just really proud of my group to find a way to keep grinding that out.”

The Flames have now beaten minor premiers Townsville and Dandenong in consecutive weeks, and Seebohm said his team heads into next week’s final with “a quiet confidence”.

“We’re still underdogs, and that’s the way we like it,” he said.
“I really think our group is starting to believe what we’re capable of when we stick to our style of play.”

In the major semi-final, Townsville Fire accounted for Bendigo Spirit 82-63 in a dominant display at Townsville RSL Stadium.

Townsville will now have a week off to prepare for the WNBL final, while Bendigo will host Sydney Uni to determine who their opponent will be in the season decider.


National Women’s Basketball League – Semi-Finals

Minor semi-final: Sydney Uni Flames 89(Rohanee Cox 24, Katie-Rae Ebzery 22, Paris Johnson 14) d Dandenong Rangers 80(Cappie Pondexter 27, Aimie Clydesdale 14, Kathleen MacLeod 9, Annalise Pickrel 9) at Dandenong Stadium on Saturday.

Major semi-final: Townsville Fire 82 (Cayla Francis 20, Steph Cumming 15, Mia Newley 14) d Bendigo Spirit 63 (Kelsey Griffin 21, Belinda Snell 11, Sara Blicavs 10) at Townsville RSL Stadium on Sunday.

Final: Bendigo Spirit v Brydens Sydney Uni Flames at Bendigo Stadium at 3pm this Sunday, March 1.

Grand Final: Townsville Fire v the winner of the WNBL final, on Sunday, March 8.