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Lightning future Crystal clear

IMPORT Crystal Langhorne made her WNBL debut tonight with a 20-point, 13-rebound double-double, pacing Adelaide to a comfortable 89-79 win over Sydney Uni at Titanium Security Arena.

Despite a teetering start which saw the Flames lead 13-4, by the first break Lightning led 29-19 off a 25-6 run spearheaded by Chelsea Brook's 10-point contribution on 4-of-4 shooting.

Adelaide had scored 51 by halftime to lead by 12 and was ahead by 16 with a period to play, Tahlia Tupaea on four fouls and Brittany Smart sidelined after suffering an accidental facial injury by her left eye.

It effectively was over at the last break, but no-one told Katrina Hibbert's crew who made a sterling run to cut the deficit to seven before Langhorne steered Lightning safely to shore.

Three-year Lightning veteran Colleen Planeta, in her Flames debut under Hibbert, her former Big V coach at Hume City Broncos, was stunning, scoring 30 points at 71 percent (15-of-21) while grabbing 11 rebounds.

Given her three years with Adelaide, it was amazing no-one on the Lightning could identify her tendencies and contain her, while it also was obvious how comfortable she felt in her new environment and former stomping ground.

SURPRISE PACKETS: Chelsea Brook competing with Colleen Planeta, both players on song.

But she could find no-one to consistently step up, Lauren Scherf - on her way to a game-high 17 rebounds - scoring six of her 10 points in the first quarter and Alice Kunek connecting on two 3-pointers in the last during what turned into the Flames' last hurrah.

Adelaide opened with its three FIBA Asia Cup Opals in Nicole Seekamp (11 points, 8 assists), Lauren Nicholson and Stephanie Talbot (12 points, 5 assists), and its import tandem of Langhorne and Brianna Turner.

But it wasn't until Natalie Hurst entered the fray and immediately struck a confident mid-range jumper the Lightning loosened up and got going.

Brook, on her way to a WNBL career-high 19 points, came on and hit back-to-back threes and suddenly the self-imposed shackles were off.

Adelaide coach Chris Lucas then threw Sarah Elsworthy (pictured) into the second quarter action and she hustled and worked for her five points, three rebounds and an assist in 7:47.

Tupaea's foul troubles and Smart's injury hindered Sydney's options but Adelaide also was hamstrung by Turner's foul issues, while it unearthed another diamond-in-the-making in Hannah Kaser.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 89 (Langhorne 20, Brook 19, Talbot 12, Seekamp 11; Langhorne 13 rebs; Seekamp 8 assts) d SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 79 (Planeta 30, Kunek 16, Wilson 11, Scherf 10; Scherf 17 rebs; Kunek 6 assts) at The Lighthouse.

TOMORROW: Expect MELBOURNE to start the Spirit's season with a home loss in Bendigo, and Townsville to drop a cracker of a contest to the rebadged SOUTHSIDE at Dandenong.

SUNDAY: In the capital, champion CANBERRA must start favourite against Adelaide while in Perth, the Lynx should get across the line over Sydney.

IMPRESSIVE START: Crystal Langhorne left no doubters as to why she was a WNBA All Star.

Oct 11

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