The Southside Flyers went on an incredible last quarter run to clinch a thrilling victory in the last minute of the game.
Coming off a loss to Perth Lynx just two nights ago, sitting at two wins and five losses, this was an important game for the reigning premiers to get their season back on track.
It was a tight first quarter, with Sydney’s Kalani Purcell leading from the front early with a strong three point shot, and covering the defensive post strongly. Putting pressure on the Flyers offence, the Flames took the lead into the first break 18 to 21.
Sydney continued to hold the more experienced Southside at bay throughout the second. Purcell continued her hot start with two assists and two defensive rebounds for the quarter, supported by Keely Froling who also had three defensive rebounds, four points and a block.
The Flames were hot all over the court, supressing any attempts the Flyers made to shut them down.
Coming into the second half the Flames had an 11 point lead. The big names from the Flyers in Jenna O’Hea and Sara Blicavs had been kept under control by the Flames so far.
Starting hot again, Purcell scored the first points of the quarter after a defensive rebound from Funda Nakkasoglou.
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Nakkasoglou was the dominator of the third quarter, taking the game into her own hands and sinking everything outside the three point line. She found three huge buckets to lead the Flames into the last quarter up by 15 points.
Controlling the whole game to that point, they seemed to be holding onto that position in the early stages of the fourth.
Slowly the momentum started to turn and the experience of the Flyers started to show. Rebecca Cole stepped up, getting their first points of the quarter and taking crucial rebounds.
The Flyers continued to tighten their defence, taking the space that they had been giving the Flames. With pressure being applied suddenly, the Flames began to unravel. The head on ball movement began to slow and they stopped taking the chances that got them on the board earlier.
Shyla Heal was unable to create the ball movement she had previously, suddenly getting stuck with possession outside the three point line. The ball seemed to get stranded at times, and poor decision making and missed passes resulted in turnovers and mistakes not seen in the game so far.
The defence of the Flames also began to extinguish in the clutches of the game. Suddenly Blicavs found space and hit a three that took the Flyers to within seven points with less than three minutes to play.
Frustration seemed to wash over the Flames camp after an offensive foul called on Keely Freeling resulted in a clutch three point shot by O’Hea, making it just a four point deficit.
It was Blicavs who continued to lead from the front and took the game on for the Flyers. She was explosive in the moments that mattered, shooting a three to finally give the Flyers the lead.
The Flames appeared to come back to life with strong defensive pressure that resulted in a shot clock violation against the Flyers.
With 20 seconds on the clock the game could have still gone either way, but Blicavs came up big again with a crucial defensive rebound after a missed three attempt from Heal that sealed the game for Southside.
O’Hea put the dagger through Sydney hearts, scoring two points from the free throw line with four seconds to play. It was exactly the on the road win the Flyers needed to get their season back on track.
The Flyers now head to Canberra to take on the Capitals, who have won their last three games.
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