Brydens Sydney Uni Flames bowed out of the WNBL playoffs at the penultimate hurdle on Sunday after the Bendigo Spirit hung on for an 85-77 preliminary final home win.
A second-quarter unanswered 15-point blitz brought momentum and hope to the Flames, but not enough.
Bendigo led at every break thanks to a career-best performance by guard Kelly Wilson. The Opals star scored 32 points, including five of eight from three-point range, and tallied six assists.
Flames hopes flickered when they levelled three times in the final quarter, but Bendigo hit the last eight points in the final minute-and-a-half to close out the game.
Uni’s American imports Paris Johnson and Mikaela Ruef each tallied 17 points in the loss.
Gabrielle Richards scored 16 and Kelsey Griffin 14 for Bendigo.
Bendigo’s win keeps alive their dream of a WNBL hat-trick when they play minor premiers Townsville next week. It will be the third straight grand final between the two teams.