Flames top Caps to rise into second place
November 29, 2009, 04:01 PM AEST

 

Sydney UniCanberraWNBL Frontpage News

Sydney Uni centre Suzy Batkovic-Brown has ensured the Flames continue their WNBL surge, a victory over Canberra on Sunday delivering the Flames a six-win streak and second spot.

The Australian Opals veteran made the most of what could be the Capitals' last match without newly-signed star recruit Lauren Jackson, notching 31 points to dominate the 76-66 win in Canberra, writes AAP.

It continued an impressive run of form for both Batkovic-Brown and her side, who have now beaten four of their fellow top six sides in succession.

Their six-win run followed a 2-3 start to the season.

Coach Karen Dalton said the improvement resulted from growing understanding between a team that began the season with four new starters - Batkovic-Brown, Natalie Porter, Deanna Smith and Deanne Butler.

"People made a lot of assumptions at the beginning of the season that we had all these great players and they couldn't play together," Dalton said.

"I just think it always takes time for a team to gel... we've made big inroads both defensively and offensively and just learning how to get the ball to each other and how to play with each other."

The Flames started the round in fourth spot.

They have swapped places with Townsville (7-3), who had been second before a pair of away losses, 88-70 to top-placed Bulleen (10-1) and more surprisingly 67-55 to eighth-placed Dandenong (3-7).

Townsville coach Peter Buckle said three away losses in the past month revealed some mental vulnerability.

"The league at the moment is so tough that if you don't turn up to play you'll get beaten, no matter who you're playing," he said.

The Flames also inched ahead of third-placed Bendigo on percentage, with both sides holding an 8-3 record, after the Spirit downed Perth 61-58.

Earlier in the round, Canberra thrashed local rivals the winless AIS 77-42, while Adelaide (7-5) had an 88-65 win over Logan (5-6) to trail the fifth-placed Capitals only on percentage.

The Flames, who have spent four straight weekends travelling, next have a home match on Wednesday night, when they should extend their streak to seven against the AIS, who have not come close to winning.

But Dalton said they could not afford to drop their guard.

"You've got to respect every team in the league, Dandenong beat Townsville today, so you can't take any team lightly," she said.

[Box Score]

ACUVUE SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 76 (Suzy Batkovic-Brown 31, Deanna Smith 16, Eva Afeaki 11) bt
CANBERRA TRANSACT CAPITALS 66 (Jess Bibby 20, Natalie Hurst 17, Chantella Perera 8, Carly Wilson 8)
At Southern Cross Stadium, Canberra

Story courtesy of AAP
Photo courtesy of Bob Cooper Photography Canberra


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