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Flames put the burn on Adelaide hopes

PACED by three-year Adelaide stalwart Colleen Planeta, Sydney Uni Flames today put a small dent in Lightning's WNBL plans with a decisive 81-69 win at Qudos Bank Arena.

Clearly fatiguing as reflected in some of Adelaide's late-game decision-making, Lightning's cause also was not helped when star import Brianna Turner was erroneously called for fourth and fifth fouls, opening the garage door for the Flames who promptly drove away.

Planeta (below) was magnificent (again) against her former club, shining for a game-high 28 points at 55 percent, 12 rebounds, an assist and two blocks.

Alice Kunek also stood up for 21 points, Jess Kuster's 14 points at 55 per cent, six rebounds and four assists equally substantial.

Sydney also made Turner work for her 19 points at 60 percent, often throwing as many as four people around her. Her third foul came when she was contesting an offensive rebound against multiple bodies after the foul on her initial shot sadly was left unrewarded.

And while the foul count - playoffs-bound Adelaide had 23, to the floundering Flames' 11, resulting in seven Lightning free throws to 27 by the home cooking, er, the home team - was significant, so was the decision-making.

Ahead 24-15 after Nat Hurst fed Steph Talbot for a 3-pointer in transition, Adelaide squandered numerous chances to extend the lead, leaving Sydney always within reach and only needing to string together a few good offences.

Nicole Seekamp (6 points on 3-of-12 shooting, 7 rebounds, 7 assists), Talbot (18 points on 6-of-15 shooting, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) and Lauren Nicholson (10 points on 5-of-14 shooting) all missed relatively simple shots which would have kept Sydney under far greater pressure.

When Flames import Jess Kuster (below) cut the deficit to 28-32 in the second, Lightning took timeout and Kathryn Westbeld scored on the next possession.

But Adelaide was unable to step on the accelerator pedal, Alex Wilson's 3-pointer keeping Sydney close at 33-36.

Seekamp with a slick pass to Westbeld for two ensured Adelaide kept its lead, but even Tahlia Tupaea's last-gasp jumpshot on the halftime bell to bring Sydney to 40-43 was ominous.

Early into the third, Kuster with a jumpshot and bonus free throw gave Sydney a 48-47 lead, Talbot's 3-pointer restoring Lightning's ascendancy, 50-48.

Planeta's triple put Sydney in front again and Alice Kunek (21 points, 4 assists) laid it up for 53-50.

Lightning's main rotation were hitting the wall now, despite dragging themselves back to 53-55, Turner battling alone against four for an offensive board and rewarded by the referees with an unliklely foul.

Her third, it further emboldened the Flames and when Sarah Elsworthy fouled Tupaea to close the third, the Sydney guard completed the threepoint play for a 64-57 lead at the last break.

Seekamp's jumper and Turner's fast break pullup quickly cut it back to 61-64 and this time Flames coach Katrina Hibbert could feel the momentum shift, stalling it with a timeout.

Within 40 seconds, Turner was called for a non-foul, now her fourth, then also had to deal with a no-call when she clearly was fouled on Adelaide's next attack.

Sydney, meanwhile, just got on with it, Planeta pulling the lead into double figures and keeping Adelaide from slamming shut the door to the Final Four.   

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 81 (Planeta 28, Kunek 21, Kuster 14; Planeta 12 rebs; Kuster, Kunek 4 assts) d ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 69 (Turner 19, Talbot 18, Westbeld 12, Nicholson 10; Turner, Talbot, Seekamp 7 rebs; Seekamp 7 assts) at The HotHouse, Qudos Bank Arena.

Dec 8

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.