SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 65 (T Tupaea 21 S Greaves 14) bt MELBOURNE BOOMERS 62
Injuries come and go but talent endures, Tahlia Tupaea proved this while leading her Sydney University Flames to an upset win over the Melbourne Boomers.
Tupaea scored four of her game-high 21 points in the final 50 seconds to lead the Flames to a 65-62 win at the State Basketball Centre with her drive, pass fake and lay-up capping off the result with Opals coach Sandy Brondello seated right under the basket.
The Flames came into the game with just one win from 11 games as injuries and misfortune have haunted their campaign and they still have stars Ally Wilson and Alex Bunton out injured.
Tupaea missed five games due to prolonged concussion symptoms after hitting her head in a nasty fall against the Boomers in the early rounds but this game showed she has regained her groove.
The second-placed Boomers looked out of touch for much of the night with their mental errors out of character, 17 turnovers and just 37 per cent shooting showed their struggles while Maddie Garrick led them with 14 points.
The Flames led for 33 of the 40 minutes and despite losing that edge after a Garrick three-pointer with five minutes left, they still held their nerve and put faith in Tupaea and heady veterans Belinda Snell (14 points, seven assists) and Brittany Smart (12 points, 10 rebounds).
‘‘It really shows how much trust my team and my coach have in me,’’ Tupaea said. ‘‘It’s weird but I do like the pressure at the end so it’s a good thing and a learning curve for me as well.’’
Boomers captain Jenna O’Hea said her side failed to lift for the occasion and never found their best form despite having their chances at the end. ‘‘We didn’t stick to game plans and we didn’t play well enough – that’s just not good enough on home court,’’ O’Hea said.
Tupaea, whose WNBA draft rights are held by Minnesota Lynx, was on the Opals extended squad for the FIBA Women’s World Cup this year and this performance won’t hurt her standing with Brondello heading towards the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
Flames coach Cheryl Chambers said she never had any doubts about trusting in Tupaea and her other younger players. ‘‘I kept saying every time out that they can’t guard her and we would keep going through her,’’ Chambers said.
‘‘The rest of you do your job but we will go with Tahlia. I get to see Tahlia every day and have a heap of confidence in her, even if she doesn’t get to the hoop she is so smart she sees the next pass."
The Boomers host Adelaide Lightning at the State Basketball Centre next Sunday at 3pm while the Flames host Dandenong Rangers at Brydens Stadium this Friday at 7pm.
Source: Read Full Article