The Brydens Sydney Uni Flames have overcome one final hurdle to secure a finals berth in the WNBL play offs. In what seemed like a David and Goliath type feat over the weekend, the Flames took down minor premiers the Townsville Fire in a nail biter to win 82 – 80.
In what was a tight contest at the start, the Flames led at quarter time by just one point after making a couple of shake turnovers. They steadied into the game however with an impressive second quarter which saw them surge to an authoritative lead of 13 points at the major break. This was a result of great team basketball which saw every player to hit the court collect points at the offensive end.
As expected, Townsville were not likely to go down without a fight, and with form and momentum needed rolling into WNBL finals, the Fire clawed their way back into the contest with two strong final quarters which saw them collect 20 points in each. Suzy Batkovic and Cayla Francis were dominant again with Batkovic leading all scorers with 23 points and 12 rebounds, while Francis had 16 points and 9 rebounds.
The Fire also managed to restrict the Flames scoring opportunities in the second half; the home side only managing 29 points in the latter part of the game. Despite the Flames having an impressive lead early on, this was diminished in the dying minutes resulting in a do ore die final couple of play phases.
With a number of turnovers committed in the high pressure situation, the Fire reduced the lead to five points before a huge three pointer by Francis drew the away side even closer to within 2 points.
Fortunately for the Flames, they were able to hold on to the win and play out the remaining final thirty seconds securing their position in fourth spot on the ladder. This win was paramount in the Flames finals chances, as two other teams, the Canberra Capitals and Melbourne Boomers were tied in number of wins and losses.
For the Flames, they were again led by backcourt duo Leilani Mitchell and Katie Ebzery who collected 19 and 16 points respectively. Mitchell’s form has been improving week on week, and what better time than a game out from finals. She also tallied a huge 12 assists and 7 rebounds to accompany her 19 points.
With finals commencing this weekend, this means the Flames will now face the Dandenong Rangers away, on Saturday the 21st of February.