Marena Whittle takes the ball down court under pressure from Tiana Mangakahia

Marena Whittle takes the ball down court under pressure from Tiana Mangakahia. (Source: Sydney Flames Website)

Lauren Mansfield put on the shooting display of the year so far, leading the Adelaide Lighting to a 20-point victory over the Sydney Flames.

The Adelaide Lightning returned to Adelaide Arena for the first time in 1,030 days, desperately seeking their first win of the WNBL23 season. In front of their home fans on the court that has seen so much success for the team in their history, the Lightning came out with a point to prove.

On both ends of the court, the Lightning was showing aggression. They opened the scoring early in the game, picking up where she left off last round Lauren Mansfield was directing the offence and already looking dangerous from the three-point line.

Defensively the double press from Adelaide was pressuring Sydney’s ball handlers causing turnovers early in the game.

The strength of the Lightning’s offence was capitalising on the Flames’ errors and before long the Lightning was out to an early lead. A time-out called by Shane Heal helped the Flames settle and reset somewhat, slowing the Lightning’s offence and limiting their scoring for a patch.

Keely Froling found space on offence for the Flames and with the help of Shyla Heal started a run for the Flames, with the Lightning getting into foul trouble they started to claw back at the lead. A shot right on the buzzer from Isobel Borlace who had been quiet took the Lightning to the first break with a nine-point lead.

Adelaide started the second term with the same momentum as the first, maintaining its lead throughout the term.

There were positive signs for the Flames in the second quarter as they started to work their offensive plays better and find players in space. Inaccuracy from long range which has been an issue this season so far continued and stopped them from cutting down the Lightning’s lead.

As the quarter went on Lauren Mansfield dialled up and took advantage of the space that the Flames were allowing her, making two deep threes that lit up the Adelaide crowd. Despite the positive signs defensively early for Sydney, it would go into halftime 20 points down against an accurate Adelaide.

In the first half of the game one area, the Lightning was punishing the Flames was on the glass. When the Lightning had the ball they were getting second and third shot attempts by getting in close to get offensive rebounds.

Sydney started to step up in this area after halftime which allowed them to transition the ball better than it had so far. This kept the Lightning from growing their lead as the Flames continued to struggle with shooting accuracy. in the early part of the third term, the Flames hadn’t hit a single three-point shot from nine attempts.

With the Lightning barely missing any shots, they would have an answer for every positive the Flames had throughout the third term.

The Flames would make a small dent in the Lightning’s lead, the question going into the final quarter was whether the Lightning could hold on and play four consistent quarters of basketball which has been an issue so far this season.

The final term started well for Sydney opening with a three-pointer putting the pressure on Adelaide who was now only leading by 12 points.

With Adelaide struggling to hold on in final terms so far this season, it was important for it to hold on to the momentum to close out the game. Both teams were struggling to make shots early, but it was Lauren Mansfield who stepped up once again, making a crucial three-point shot for the Lightning.

From that point on the game went in the Lightning’s favour with Mansfield and import Kierstan Bell both lighting on offence. The pair would go on to score the Lightning’s final 14 points of the game to guide them to a 20-point victory.

Bell would end the night on 22 points and six rebounds in her best outing since joining the Lightning. With Steph Talbot kept quiet and under an injury cloud, the Lightning was able to show the depth in their list and take a big confidence boost into their next game against the Capitals on November 30.

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