THE final head-to-head battle of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) begins on Saturday with the first of three games between the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals and Adelaide Lightning. We take a look at the two combatants who swept past Perth Lynx and Melbourne Boomers respectively to reach the decider..
UC Capitals vs Adelaide Lightning
Saturday, 5:30pm at AIS Stadium
Key match-ups: Kia Nurse vs Nia Coffey
This may be one of the best match-ups of the year. All season Nurse has put up strong numbers, averaging 18.18 points, 4.77 rebounds and 2.18 assists. She averages the second most minutes in the league at 34.34 minutes per game. Her hustle and quick decision-making in the key makes guarding her difficult, but up against Coffey, she will likely have to retreat to the perimeter. Besides being a strong defender, Coffey’s strength going to the ring is unparalleled. She sits just below Nurse for average points with 17.86, as well as earns 8.41 rebounds and two assists per game. Both players will have an impact, but Nurse will likely have to adjust her game more than Coffey.
Last time they faced: Adelaide Lightning (93) defeat UC Capitals (73)
In their last meeting Adelaide took the win at home with a big first half, shooting 54 to 38. Scoring slowed in the third for both teams and picked up again to close out the game, with UC trailing in every period. Coffey dropped 21 points with seven rebounds and seven assists, alongside Kayla Alexander who scored 22 points with 10 rebounds. The Capitals biggest player for the day was Kelsey Griffin who scored 18 points with six rebounds. Nurse underwhelmed with nine points.
Season so far:
As should be inferred by the game itself, UC Capitals and Adelaide Lightning have both had outstanding seasons. UC finished atop the table with 16 wins and five losses, while Adelaide finished third with 13 wins and 8 losses. Adelaide just snuck in above Perth who underperformed in their last five season games, while Adelaide won four of their five and UC went five straight. Both teams made short work of their opponents in the semis and now look to reward themselves with a championship.
As with their last meeting, it is likely Adelaide will try to ice UC early with a strong first half. UC should be looking for Nurse to continue her strong perimeter shooting if they hope to minimise Coffey’s defensive influence. Kelly Wilson should keep the balling moving in offense, while Griffin causes trouble on the rebounds. For Adelaide, Coffey should have an impact on offense and rebound well in defense. Alexander and Lauren Nicholson should be similarly impactful, while Nicole Seekamp provides trouble to perimeter shooters with her guarding and interceptions. Adelaide are likely to take this one out with their recent form, but UC are not without their talent.