Flames one game away from WNBL title

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Brydens Sydney Uni Flames are one game away from collecting the 2016-17 National Women’s Basketball League title after winning game one of the best-of-three grand final series.

The Flames defeated Dandenong Rangers 91-82 at Brydens Stadium, Sydney University Sport and Fitness Centre, on Saturday. They travel to Dandenong Stadium, Melbourne, for game two on Friday night and a win there would break a 20-year title drought.

Alex Wilson led the scoring for the Flames on Saturday with 22 points, while Leilani Mitchell (15), Jennifer Hamson (15) and Asia Taylor (15) also made solid contributions.

Sara Blicavs top-scored for the match with 25 for the visitors, with Stephanie Cumming (16) and Natalie Novosel (14) also shooting in double figures.

The first three terms were befitting of a grand final, with the Flames leading 26-22 at the first break, while the Rangers led 48-46 at half-time.

The Flames regained the lead 69-68 at the end of the third term and toughed it out to gain control late in the final term.

Since the WNBL started in 1981, the then Sydney Flames have won the title twice: a 65-64 heart-stopper over Perth Breakers in 1993, and a 61-56 result over Adelaide Lightning for the 1997 crown after finishing runners-up in 1996. The Flames also finished runners-up in 1998, 2001-02 and 2002-03.

Sydney University Sport took over the franchise in 2003 and the bridesmaid tag continued with runners-up results in 2003-04, 2004-05, 2006-07 and 2007-08.

The Flames finished third in 2009-10, fifth in 2011-12, seventh in 2012-13, sixth in 2014-15 and third in 2015-16.

This season saw them clinch the minor premiership on the back of a 10-game winning streak. They then earnt a grand final berth with back-to-back wins over JCU Townsville Flames in the best-of-three semi-final series.

Grand Final Scoreboard

Game 1: Brydens Sydney Uni Flames 91 (Alex Wilson 22, Leilani Mitchell 15, Jennifer Hamson 15, Asia Taylor 15, Lauren Nicholson 9, Tahlia Tupaea 8, Belinda Snell 7) defeated Dandenong Rangers 82 (Sara Blicavs 25, Stephanie Cumming 16, Natalie Novosel 14, Ally Malott 8) at Brydens Stadium, Sydney University Sport and Fitness Centre, on Saturday.

Game 2: Dandenong Stadium, Melbourne on Friday, March 17, with a 7.30pm tip-off.

Game 3 (if required): Brydens Stadium, Sydney University Sport and Fitness Centre, on Sunday, March 19, with a 2pm tip-off.