Melbourne magnificent despite loss

ONE of Australia’s best young female basketballers was in fine form on Wednesday night, as Jade Melbourne produced an excellent performance in the UC Capitals‘ five-point loss to the Sydney Flames.

The two teams clashed at Quaycentre in Sydney to kick off the third round of the 2023/24 season in the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL). Both sides had started the season in less-than-ideal form, with the Capitals still searching for their first win while the Flames had managed just the one themselves. It marked quite an important match for the two sides, both of whom were looking to drag themselves right back into contention.

It was an enthralling match, with the lead changing hands countless times as each side threw punches while the opposition returned serve. Neither club could produce a genuine game-breaking run in the first half, before the Flames went on a run in the third quarter to manage a double-digit lead. However, UC lifted in the final term, drawing within two points with just a few minutes to play. Sydney’s lead was whittled down to just three points with 18 seconds to play, but Sydney nailed the clutch free throws to claim an 86-81 win.

Despite not getting the result her side was looking for, Melbourne was exceptional in the backcourt and could not have done much more.

Sydney Flames (86) def. UC Capitals (81)

Jade Melbourne – 31 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, one steal

It was emphatic of a performance as anyone delivered in one of the season’s more entertaining matches, as Melbourne did a bit of everything to try and conjure a win for the Capitals.

The guard was on fire in all facets of the game, popping up everywhere to initially keep her side in the contest before helping spark a fourth-quarter run that almost got UC over the line.

Her 31 points were the most of anyone on the court, making the most of the high-usage and creating plenty of good looks for herself. Melbourne shot 10/19, and was one of the more accurate players for the Capitals, given the team struggled as a whole when shooting from the field.

Melbourne’s ability to knock down shots from all over the halfcourt was a real positive for the Capitals on the offensive end, and she came in clutch down the stretch. Whenever the visitors went on a run, she was usually contributing in one way or another.

She pulled down seven rebounds, chasing the ball after an opposition miss to kickstart some transition run for the Capitals. Her willingness to take the ball down the court in rapid fashion also resulted in some excellent passes from Melbourne, who set up her teammates with her precision and timing. She also displayed her excellent decision-making, never taking a bad shot and always looking to generate a score one way or another.

It was as good a showing as the Capitals could have asked from their young star, and if Melbourne can continue to deliver performances of this calibre, the team’s first win can not be far away.

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