Brydens Sydney University Flames opened the 2014-15 Women’s National Basketball League season with a nail-biting 73-70 win over the University of Canberra Capitals at AIS Arena, Canberra, on Saturday night.
The Flames’ solid pre-season had them in good stead for the season opener with four of their five starting line-up shooting double figures.
Katie-Rae Ebzery led the way with 19, while Rohanee Cox (15), Leilani Mitchell (13) and Mikalea Ruef (10) also helped the cause.
Capitals shooter Jessica Bibby came off the bench to hit a game-high 24 points, while Abby Bishop (14) and Stephanie Talbot (12) also shot double figures.
The hosts took the game right down to the wire. With 0.5 seconds to play Bibby had a chance to force overtime but her desperation three-pointer bounced off the ring, much to the relief of Flames coach Shannon Seebohm, who celebrated his first win at WNBL level.
“We knew we would get a tough game from a great outfit and the girls did a good job to stick to the game plan and play together,” Seebohm said.
“Canberra just chipped away and managed to hang around. We probably didn’t execute as well as we could have at the finish but we eked out a great win.”
The coach said Cox, Mitchell and Ebzery turned in strong performances. “Rohanee hurt her ankle in the first quarter and took a knock to the head then she got a bloody nose in the second half. She is just a warrior,” he said. “All she cares about is winning and we are lucky to have her.
“Leilani and Katie just play off each other so well that I think they are going to have a special partnership and it will only get better when they have a bit more of a chance to train together.”
The Flames led 22-19 at quarter time after being ahead 14-6 at one stage. They went to the main break with a 37-33 advantage and started the final term with a 55-46 lead.
They extended that lead to 13 points early in the last term but the Capitals charged back to be down 69-66 after a Carly Wilson three-pointer with under two minutes remaining.
The game ebbed and flowed until the dying second when Ebzery was fouled. She missed her first free throw but nailed the second to make it 73-70 with 0.5 left to play. And that proved to be the final score.
The Flames will meet Dandenong Rangers at Dandenong Stadium next Saturday afternoon.
Women’s National Basketball League – Round 1
Sydney Uni Flames 73 (Katie-Rae Ebzery 19, Rohanee Cox 15, Leilani Mitchell 13, Mikaela Ruef 10) d Canberra Capitals 70 (Jessica Bibby 24, Abby Bishop 14, Stephanie Talbot 12) at AIS Arena, Canberra, on Saturday night.