Capitals can’t put out the Flames as Sydney wins in thriller

ANOTHER close game in a tense round of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) saw the Sydney Flames hold on for a two-point win over the UC Capitals at the National Convention Centre on Friday night.

The Flames had plenty of motivation heading into the game, with the team celebrating Tess Madgen‘s 250th WNBL match. The guard is one of Australia’s most celebrated female basketballers of the modern era, and Sydney was always going to fight tooth and nail to get the former Boomer a win.

On the other hand, the Capitals came into the game winless, still searching for their first victory of the 2023/24 season after five rounds. Canberra had come lose on a couple of occasions, but still needed that breakthrough result to get going.

The Capitals came awfully close, but Sydney delivered down the stretch to move to a record of five wins and three losses on the season.

UC Capitals (70) def. by Sydney Flames (72)

The game started in scrappy fashion, with neither side able to get any offensive cohesion flowing and just a combined 10 points in the first three minutes. A highlight did come in the form of a flashy no-look assist from Jade Melbourne to spark up the home crowd, but buckets were hard to come by apart from that. However, the Flames rallied in the final minutes of the opening term to take a hard-fought eight-point lead into the first change.

Sydney continued to break away in the second term, with Madgen in particular playing a key role in this time. It was evident the Flames were looking to get the ball in her hands wherever possible, and the milestone marvel delivered in a big way. Her consistent baskets put the visitors truly in control of the match, leading by 12 points at the main break.

The home side turned things around coming out of half time, going on a 13-4 run to open the third quarter and get all the momentum on their side. It was a far cry from the first half, with the Capitals finally getting some free-flowing offence and getting the better of Sydney’s defence. The script had been flipped with the Capitals leading on the eve of the final quarter, with Canberra outscoring the Flames 23-5 for the term.

The Capitals continued to have control of the match to start the final 10 minutes, with Melbourne playing a big part in this. However, Sydney kept itself in the game as the term went on, and things were extremely tense in the final stages of the match. Lauren Nicholson had some big plays down the stretch, particularly with her interior offence. She nailed some big baskets and helped put the Flames in front, holding on by a sole basket.

Nicholson top-scored for the winning side, producing 26 points on an impressive 9/12 shooting from the field (9/9 2PT) and 8/10 from the free throw line. Madgen was also a standout in her milestone match, finishing with 22 points and three assists in a vintage showing.

For the Capitals, Melbourne continued to shine with 23 points, six rebounds and four assists, and seems awfully close to dragging her side to their first win of the season.

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