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Sydney Flames get hot in WNBL

AAP logoAAP 1/01/2017 Adrian Warren

Injury-hit Sydney have emerged as WNBL title contenders after a storming finish to the year.

The Flames (10-5) equalled the win-loss record of second-placed Bendigo and moved closer to leaders Dandenong (11-4) by winning on successive nights.

Featuring in two of the three WNBL matches between Christmas and the new year, Sydney won 89-72 at Adelaide (0-15) on Thursday and 93-69 at Perth (9-6) on Friday.

In the round's only other game, defending champions Townsville (9-7) maintained their improved recent form with a 88-75 home win over Melbourne (4-11).

It was the fifth-placed Fire's fourth straight win, though all of those have been against the bottom two teams.

Sydney, who beat Dandenong in their last game before Christmas, have won their past three, but coach Cheryl Chambers wasn't getting too excited.

"It gives everyone confidence when they get wins, but the reality is that's it's still such a close race," Chambers told AAP.

Flames' frontcourt import Asia Taylor had an enormous road trip, racking up 26 points and 14 rebounds against Adelaide and 21 points 13 boards and eight assists the following night.

American centre Jennifer Hamson tallied 12 points and 14 rebounds against Adelaide and Boomers guard Leilani Mitchell torched Perth with a 27-point haul on 10-of-17 field goal shooting.

The wins were achieved without the injured pair of Boomers stalwart Belinda Snell and Lauren Nicholson and Carly Boag.

"Having said we've got players out, we've always been able to find someone else to step up,' Chambers said.

One good piece of fitness news for Chambers was the successful return of outstanding young guard Tahlia Tupaea, who played her first games of the season following a foot injury.

The 175cm Tupaea performed well when she was pressed into service in the unfamiliar four spot against Perth, after the Flames bigs got into foul trouble.

Perth shot at just 30 per cent and made only seven off 33 three-point attempts.

"I'm incredibly disappointed," Perth coach Andy Stewart said.

"We fell apart in almost every area you could possibly think we could. We've got to do a fair bit of soul searching."

In Townsville, the Fire's four-time league MVP Suzy Batkovic contributed 18 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and a block despite an injury scare which briefly kept her off court.

"We've strung four together now so we need to keep going with it," Batkovic said.

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