The ACUVUE Sydney Uni Flames have earned a double chance in the finals after their win against Go for 2 & 5 Perth Lynx in Sydney on Saturday, 72-59.
Despite playing withoutcrucial inside players Suzy Batkovic-Brown & Eva Afeaki the Flames stepped up their game with the help of Nat Porter and Deanna Smith and finished second on the ladder.
Porter was still getting her offensive power back after her wrist injury and the crowd only got a taste of her former MVP prowess. She shot well from both inside and outside topping the scorers with 24 points.
Coach Karen Dalton was happy with Porter stepping into the lead scorer role “she had a good game but it’s a week by week thing getting her confidence back offensively, it’s going to a little while longer to gel”.
After a loss to the AIS on Friday, the Lynx took the court with intensity but mistakes cost them early on as the Flames created a 10 point lead at the first break.
The first half was plagued with simple turnovers from both teams. In spite of lots of travels, fumbles and bad passes, Sydney Uni maintained their lead finishing the first half with a 12 point buffer, 35-23.
The game became more physical in the second half as Perth launched a comeback. They successfully shut down Flames’ centre Ellie Manou and limited Mikaela Dombkins to only 9 points with very physical defence.
Sydney Uni’s rebounds suffered without Afeaki or Batkovic-Brown as Perth out-rebounded them, 34-31. But the Flames hope not be out-rebounded again with the return of Eva Afeaki.
Coach Dalton is looking forward to getting Afeaki back for the finals and having her step in to fill the void left by Batkovic-Brown. “We’ve definitely missed Eva especially offensively, our offensive was a bit all over the place tonight” she commented.
But in the end it was Perth’s turnover tally that lost them the game, 22 turnovers to Sydney Uni’s 12. The Flames chalked up 9 points from turnovers while the Lynx capitalised none despite solid offensive efforts from Perth’s Kate Malpass and Rebecca Mercer.
Coach Dalton echoed Sydney Uni’s sentiment about their second placing, “I’m absolutely ecstatic!” she said.
Sydney Uni will play Bulleen in the Game 2 of the Finals series on February 20.
ACUVUE SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 72 (N Porter 24, D Smith 21, M Dombkins 9) bt
GO FOR 2 AND 5 PERTH LYNX 59 (K Malpass 13, R Mercer 13, S Norwood 12)
At ACUVUE Sports Hall, Sydney
By Bec Landon
Photos courtesy of Rob Sheeley