Tag: keely froling

WNBL Free Agency: Nicholson to join Fire and George back in Boom Town

SINCE Tuesday afternoon, the WNBL has had its hands full with big moves in its second week of the Free Agency period. Former Defensive Player of the Year (2018/19) in Lauren Nicholson has joined what is starting to look like a serious contender in the Townsville Fire, while former Perth Lynx star, Sami Whitcomb, is set to return to the west after an overseas stint in France.

In addition, WNBL veterans Cayla George and Brittany Smart have stated their intentions for the upcoming season, with George staying put in “Boom Town” for a third consecutive season and Smart making the move to the nation’s capital to suit up in Paul Gorris’ side.

Nicholson, who has long been praised for her defensive ability, was awarded the Adelaide Lightning’s club Defensive Player of the Year Award this past season adding to what has been a very successful WNBL career to this point.

Following the move Tuesday, Nicholson lines up next to the likes of young guns Zitina Aokuso and Shyla Heal, as well as Mia Murray in Shannon Seebohms bid to bring glory back to the far-north following a sub-par 5-16 record in WNBL20.

At a glance, Nicholson was a productive force for the Lightning last season, as she helped her side to a fourth-place finish after 21 games. She would average a consistent 14.2 points per contest, while earning her keep in the rebounding and steals categories, averaging 3.4 and 1.4 in the respective categories.

In Townsville’s media release, the location of the move and the community love for the team were the critical factors in the 27-year-old’s decision, “I am so excited about the move to Townsville and joining the Fire next season, every time I come to Townsville, I love the community feeling, the crowd and its supporters are certainly the loudest and most passionate in the league. I can’t wait to get the feeling of playing at the stadium, with them supporting me, wearing the Fire colours, it will be awesome to be a part of,” said Nicholson.

Out by the Indian Ocean, the Perth Lynx have initiated their announcements regarding next season’s signees, as Whitcomb will don the red and black for the first time since the 2017/18 campaign.

Following a WNBA championship with the Seattle Storm and two seasons with French powerhouse, Basket Lattes, Whitcomb brings an abundance of success and experience to newly signed head coach, Ryan Petrik’s side.

Whitcomb averages over 20 points per game to this point in her WNBL career, as the backcourt prospect will prove to be a handful for opposing sides with the goal of helping the Lynx return to the postseason.

Down in Victoria, the Melbourne Boomers announced that co-captain George (next to Maddie Garrick) would be staying at the club for another year, as the 31-year-old WNBL Hall of Fame inductee will be a part of Guy Molloy’s 2020/21 squad.

Completing her WNBL20 season with averages of 14.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and four assists per game, George continues to ride a string of successful seasons in the Purple and Gold as the Boomers can look to both their team leaders for next season’s affairs.

Looking to the nation’s capital, where Gorris has added some more experience to the defending champs, as Smart has signed on for a one-year contract in the ACT, according to the club.

Coming off a minimised season (seven games), Smart would still maintain almost 10 points per game in the games she would participate in, indicating there is more to be offered by the 35-year-old.

Smart enters her sixth season in the WNBL and will look to be a guiding force for the Caps, as they look to make history and win three consecutive championships for the first time since the Adelaide Lightning dynasty of 1994-96 led by Rachael Sporn.

Draft Central can also confirm that the following Canberra signings during the Free Agency period have all agreed to one-year contracts for the 2020/21 season, per the Capitals administration.

Marianna Tolo, Kelsey Griffin, Keely Froling, Maddison Rocci, Abby Cubillo, Alex Delaney and Tahlia Tupaea.

WNBL Free Agency: Heal and Tupaea become first to switch teams

TALENTED teenager Shyla Heal became the first Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) player to switch allegiances for the 2021 WNBL season. Amongst a high number of re-signings for the University of Canberra Capitals – six players re-signed to the reigning premiers – Heal moved from Bendigo Spirit to the Sunshine State to take a chance with Townsville Fire.

Speaking to Heal last week, the 18-year-old has the intention of nominating for next year’s WNBA Draft, and she is determined to have a strong season with the Fire alongside another talented youngster in Zitina Aokuso. In a breaking announcement today, Sydney Uni Flames point guard Tahlia Tupaea has also headed inland and signed on with the Capitals. The talented 23-year-old who has had her fair share of bad luck through injuries since debuting at the age of 15 – the second youngest in WNBL history – will look to have a clean run in the nation’s capital.

The other big talking point was Alanna Smith returning to Australia from College to line-up with Adelaide Lightning next season. She was drafted in the first round – eighth overall pick – in last year’s WNBA Draft to go to the Phoenix Mercury after graduating through Stanford.

Given the likelihood of Brianna Turner‘s unavailability – due to the league not having imports – the power forward position is Smith’s for the taking. It allows her to team up with Lauren Nicholson and Steph Talbot in the City of Churches to try and bring Adelaide a title after being on the verge of being a contender the last couple of seasons.

The Spirit might have lost Heal over the Free Agency Period, but have re-signed Demi Skinner and Tessa Lavey, whilst Jenna O’Hea put pen to paper for another season with Southside Flyers. The Capitals re-signed six players in a spree early in the period, with Maddison Rocci, Abby Cubillo, Alex Delaney and Keely Froling joining Kelsey Griffin and Marianna Tolo in the capital to try and mount a title defence.

Three players have also announced their retirement from the league with Adelaide’s Nat Hurst, Bendigo’s Gabe Richards and Sydney Uni’s Sarah Graham calling it a day.

Draft Central’s 2019/20 WNBL Top 10 Players: #1 – Kia Nurse

DRAFT Central’s formula for deciding this season’s top player of the WNBL was a rather simple one. Similarly to the NBL’s top player of the season, Bryce Cotton, the WNBL’s MVP and top-scorer, Kia Nurse, would reign supreme in terms of success individually and as a teammate. As this this season’s 2019/20 WNBL Champion, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals would defend their title, claiming their ninth in franchise history.

Having already spent a season with the Capitals, Nurse would hit the ground running, opening up her 2020 campaign with a 28-point and seven-rebound performance against the Adelaide Lightning, quickly establishing herself as one of the league’s most deadly offensive weapons. Throughout the entire season, Nurse would continue to provide an abundance of minutes for Paul Gorris’s side, only twice playing less than 32 minutes in a game, therefore leading the league in minutes per game by the end of Round 16, averaging 37.1 (1.4 minutes higher than Alice Kunek). But, the main headline act for the Canadian, was her scoring prowess. Going the entire fixture without scoring single digits is one accomplishment, but to average over 20 points per game throughout the entire competition would have already been enough to secure an MVP award for the 24-year-old.

Helping her side to a 15-win season alongside the likes of Marianna Tolo, Olivia Epoupa, Kelsey Griffin and Keeley Froling, Nurse would receive her second straight All-WNBL First Team selection, the Capitals’ Best and Fairest Award and the Suzy Batkovic Medal (League-MVP) to round out one of the league’s best individual season performances in history. Nurse is grateful of the system she was put in, as it allowed her to develop her offence even more.

“I was allowed to be in a system in Australia where I was a lot more free than any system I’ve played in since my high school days. “That allowed me to kind of get confidence back into my offensive game … and that was pretty exciting.” Playing four years at the UConn Huskies while she attended college, Nurse found out the formula for success is not given, it is earned, which is why the two-time NCAA Champion knew that her 21 regular season games were just stepping stones to the real prize.

The hard work would begin against the Melbourne Boomers in their semi-final series, with their matchup going to a deciding Game Three. Nurse would need every ounce of her will, to help get her side over the line against the wily Boomers side. Playing all 40 minutes at home, Nurse’s hard-fought 18 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals, would be enough to get the Capitals to the finish line taking the contest, 77-64, with their extraordinary defence being the main proponent of their win. With the Boomers in their rear-view mirror, the Caps would look to topple the best team in the league to this point, the Southside Flyers.

Knowing full well that their best bet to win the series would be to steal Game One in Dandenong, Nurse would again be called on to play most of the game (she would average 39 minutes per game in the series). Scoring 19 points and securing five rebounds in Game One, the Capitals would steal the opening game of the series by a single bucket, forcing a decisive Game Two back home in Canberra. With Game Two being an all-out war between both sides, the Capitals found themselves down by a point with less than 30 seconds to go, but the always reliable Epoupa (Finals-MVP) would find the WNBL’s top scorer open for three, as Nurse would knock it down and win the Capitals their second straight championship. “It was obviously a fairy-tale ending to a really good story,” said Nurse reflecting on what was nothing short of a perfect season.

Whether imports will be allowed to play next season or not is yet to be confirmed by the WNBL given the severity of COVID-19, but if they are, then the likelihood of a WNBL three-peat for the first time since the Adelaide Lightning dynasty of 1994-96 may very well be on the cards for the Capitals, as they continue to be at the forefront of Australian basketball success.

Draft Central’s Top 10 2019/20 WNBL memorable moments: #1 – UC Capitals go back-to-back

WITH no basketball on for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at the brighter side of the sport that brought plenty of memories throughout the 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season. Over the next couple of weeks we will countdown Draft Central‘s Top 10 memorable moments from the season. Some are individual events, others are season views, and even a couple are decisions that panned out for the better. Today we continue with our top selection and what else could it be, but the University of Canberra Capitals winning back-to-back WNBL titles.

#1 UC Capitals win back-to-back WNBL titles

After an impressive list of moments predating the number one choice, it was fitting that the top billing belonged to the ultimate success of a season in the WNBL title. Most impressively, the Capitals defied odds to get it done, just making it into second on the WNBL table by year’s-end and defeating the Melbourne Boomers and then minor premiers, Southside Flyers on the way to the title. After winning last year against Adelaide Lightning, the Capitals lost a couple of star talents in Kelly Wilson and Leilani Mitchell – the latter of whom faced off against the Capitals in the Grand Final Series. The Canberra-based side also had more than its fair share of injuries with 2018/19 Most Valuable Player (MVP) Kelsey Griffin and Keely Froling missing multiple games, and instead it was second year import, Kia Nurse who stepped up alongside a really strong core of players to win the 2019/20 MVP award.

The Capitals won the title by the narrowest of margins, getting up by two points in Dandenong on March 1, then three days later returning to AIS Arena where they won 71-68 with a Nurse triple fittingly ending the contest, and the competition without having to go to a third deciding game. Olivia Epoupa won the Finals MVP after 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the first game and a massive 16 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists in the second to finish the series with 15.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.5 assists across 77 of a possible 80 minutes on court. Along with Epoupa and Nurse (18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds), Marianna Tolo (17.0 points, 8.0 rebounds), Maddison Rocci (8.5 points, 4.0 rebounds) and Griffin (11.5 points, 12.5 rebounds) all started the matches, while Froling (6.0 points, 3.5 rebounds) and came off the bench for crucial touches. Abby Cubillo also received two and half minutes in the first game in what will be a memorable moment for her in years to come.

Top 10 WNBL 2019/20 moments countdown so far:

#10 – Ezi Magbegor wins second Rookie of the Year award
#9 – Bendigo Spirit breaks road drought
#8 – Mercedes Russell stars in debut season
#7 – Southside’s flying first season
#6 – Back-to-back overtime victories shape finals series
#5 – Southside Flyers’ road win against UC Capitals
#4 – Kia Nurse wins MVP after sensational season
#3 – Nicole Seekamp’s 20-assist game
#2 – Kelly Wilson breaks games record
#1 – UC Capitals go back-to-back

Draft Central’s Top 10 2019/20 WNBL memorable moments: #6 – Back-to-back overtime thrillers shape finals series

WITH no basketball on for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we look at the brighter side of the sport that brought plenty of memories throughout the 2019/20 Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season. Over the next couple of weeks we will countdown Draft Central‘s Top 10 memorable moments from the season. Some are individual events, others are season views, and even a couple are decisions that panned out for the better. Today we continue with number six, looking at back-to-back overtime games in Round 13 and 14 that ultimately shaped the WNBL finals series at the expense of the Melbourne Boomers.

#6 Heartbreak for Melbourne Boomers as Flyers and Capitals both win in overtime

They might have been five days apart, but Melbourne Boomers’ back-to-back losses in overtime against fellow top three sides, Southside Flyers and University of Canberra (UC) Capitals in January ultimately shaped the finals series. With the Boomers needing a win to remain clear of the sides, as history would tell us that a victory could have handed them the extra home final against the Capitals. They went down 2-1 in the semi-finals and lost the two on the road, while winning at home, something that might have altered the WNBL Finals Series. They finished on the same amount of wins, but the head-to-head which went in the Capitals’ favour thanks to the heart-breaking 76-75 loss at the National Convention Centre in Round 14 proved to be the ultimate dagger to the heart. That game, along with the Round 13 thriller at the State Basketball Centre (which saw the Flyers defeat the Boomers 75-73) shaped the top three and locked in the finals spots even with a couple of weeks remaining.

In the Boomers-Flyers match, Melbourne got off to a great start to lead by four points at quarter time, five at the main break and six by the final change. Unfortunately a slip up in just one quarter can cost at the elite level, and it proved the case with Southside winning the final term 20-14 to draw level and force overtime. There, the Flyers took it out with an 8-6 overtime to win 75-73, despite a double-double from Ezi Magbegor (24 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and three blocks) and a cameo from Cayla George (13 points, nine rebounds, five assists and two steals). Instead it was four players recording 15 points or more for the Flyers, with Mercedes Russell (21 points, 11 rebounds and two steals) the top player, as Leilani Mitchell (21 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals), Jenna O’Hea (19 points, six rebounds, two assists and four steals) and Rebecca Cole (15 points, five rebounds, six assists and two steals) all shared around the spoils.

Five days later it was instead the Boomers playing catch-up in a scoreline that was eerily similar to the first game. The Capitals raced out of the blocks to lead by six points – the same score as the final term in the previous match – before the Boomers roped them in over the next three terms to not only draw level, but go up by six points with 43 seconds remaining. An unsportsmanlike foul in between a couple of baskets saw the Capitals drag it back level at the final buzzer. Unfortunately for Melbourne, it was a similar story as the Caps’ reigned supreme with a 10-9 overtime to win 76-75. Kia Nurse (23 points, seven rebounds) and Marianna Tolo (22 points, nine rebounds) dominated, as Keely Froling (12 points, nine rebounds) was solid and Olivia Epoupa was the best across the entire court picking up a ridiculous eight points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and six steals. For the Boomers, it was Stella Beck (17 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Magbegor (14 points, four rebounds) who shared the load with top scorer, Sophie Cunningham (22 points, two rebounds). As hindsight would show, this game ultimately helped the Capitals win the semi-finals series and go back-to-back in the 2019/20 WNBL season.

Top 10 WNBL 2019/20 moments countdown so far:

#10 – Ezi Magbegor wins second Rookie of the Year award
#9 – Bendigo Spirit breaks road drought
#8 – Mercedes Russell stars in debut season
#7 – Southside’s flying first season
#6 – Back-to-back overtime victories shape finals series

2019/20 WNBL preview: Semi-final 3 – Reigning premiers back at home in deciding grand final spot

REIGNING premiers, the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals are back at home for the third and deciding game of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) competition, taking on the Melbourne Boomers who forced a decider with the win on Sunday night.

After triumphing in the first game of the best-of-three series 84-70, the Capitals went down to the Boomers on the road by 12 points, losing 76-88 following a spirited effort from Melbourne’s big guns. Now heading into the third and final game of the series, the Capitals will look to bring much of their performance from the first game back here at AIS Arena. The reigning premiers are near-unbeatable on this court, winning 11 of a possible 12 games, with only minor premiers, Southside Flyers getting the better of them. In other words, it would take an unbelievable effort for the Boomers to get up, but they have a respectable 7-3 record on the road, with one of those losses of course coming in game one.

This year, Kia Nurse has been the standout player with the WNBL’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) averaging 21.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Teaming up with last year’s MVP, Kelsey Griffin (15.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.0 blocks), the pair has been a headache for the opposition when on the court together. At the center position, Marianna Tolo has been strong with 14.2 rebounds and 7.6 rebounds per game, while Keely Froling (13.2 points, 7.4 rebounds) has provided great support across the court. The only two players to have started every game are Maddison Rocci (9.3 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.2 steals) and Olivia Epoupa (8.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 3.0 steals) showing just how versatile and damaging the Capitals’ line-up is on a weekly basis.

The Boomers have some serious A-Grade talent at their disposal as well, with Cayla George (14.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals) on fire, teaming well with fellow Opal, Ezi Magbegor (13.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.1 blocks). Lindsay Allen (15.1 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 1.3 steals) has been impressive, as has fellow American, Sophie Cunningham (11.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists). Rounding out the starting five is Madeleine Garrick (11.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 steals), while the Boomers have shared court time with players coming off the bench such as Kalani Purcell (23 games), Stella Beck and Antonia Farnworth (both 22 games).

UC start favourites for this clash given its sterling record at home where they have been able to tick off any challenge thrown at them. The Boomers understand they will be up against it in this game, but showed in game two that they have the top-end talent and depth off the bench to match it with the Capitals. Given Southside Flyers are through to the grand final awaiting the winner, both these sides would love to win in a bruise-free encounter, but they both know this is likely to go down to the wire.

WNBL Semi-final 2 review: Boomers keep grand final chance alive

MELBOURNE Boomers have kept their dreams alive with a highly important win against the Capitals in the second semi-final. With one win apiece Melbourne and Canberra will face off in a decider with the victor going on to play in the grand final against the Southside Flyers.

Melbourne Boomers (88) defeated UC Capitals (76)

In front of a home crowd the Melbourne Boomers well and truly struck back against the Capitals downing them by 12 points and keeping their grand final chances alive. The Boomers raced out of the blocks applying early scoreboard pressure with a 23 and 26-point showing in the first and second terms while keeping the Capitals to 18 and 16 respectively. While the traveling side had a stronger second half they failed to reduce the margin. It was a complete performance on behalf of the Boomers who came out with a point to prove from tip off and did not let up throughout forcing the Capitals to play catch-up.

Accuracy was one of the key differences between the two sides throughout the game, with Melbourne making the most of their chances sitting at 50 per cent from field goals as opposed to the Capitals who only managed 42 per cent. Although the Capitals were stronger from beyond the arc with 35 per cent conversion the Boomers reigned supreme in close with 61 per cent accuracy from two point range compared to their opponents with 44 per cent. Defensively the Boomers were also a lot stronger racking up an impressive eight blocks while the Capitals did not register one. In terms of rebounds, Melbourne won that area as well with 14 more than their opponents showing just how much of a one-sided affair the match was.

Melbourne’s big guns sensed the moment and rose to the occasion. While they did not get a lot of relief from their bench players the Boomers did not look overawed or run of their feet instead showed plenty of composure and class. Lindsay Allen led from the front with a stat stuffing performance with a game-high 25 points along with five rebounds and four assists. Teammate Ezi Magbegor starred in her sides victory with a whopping four blocks and nine rebounds seven of which were defensive highlighting her defensive mindset while also hitting the scoreboard with 17 points of her own. Guard Madeleine Garrick also shone with 17 points and eight rebounds while captain Cayla George plied her trade across the court knocking back 13 points, five assists, six rebounds and two steals.

For the Capitals, Olivia Epoupa was relatively well held compared to her lofty standards but still had an influence with 13 points and two steals. Keely Froling started on the bench but when on court managed to have an impact albeit limited with six points but a strong seven rebounds. The number 17 proved to be the magic number for Kia Nurse and Kelsey Griffin with both players recording 17 points apiece. Nurse added five rebounds, four assists and two steals to her impressive outing while Griffin gobbled up seven rebounds of her own. Marianna Tolo struggled to find her usual point-scoring form with 14 for the match and only two rebounds.

2019/20 WNBL preview: Semi-finals – Boomers look to level series as reigning premiers eye off another grand final

IT is now or never for the Melbourne Boomers, hoping to put last year’s Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) semi-finals disappointment behind them and find something to level the scores against reigning premiers, the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals. The Capitals have overcome the odds through a severe injury list and found a way to reach second spot on the table and almost guarantee themselves a grand final place with two home finals. The Boomers dropped out of last year’s semi-finals after going down to Adelaide at home and then bundled out in a shock 2-0 sweep, but this year have the chance to force a third game in the series, coming in as underdogs.

Taking place at the State Basketball Centre on Sunday evening, the Boomers must win to remain in the WNBL finals series, following a comprehensive 14-point loss to the Capitals at AIS Arena. Given the Capitals’ strength at home, it will be difficult to try and topple them in Canberra – only the Flyers have been able to do it this season – but the third placed Boomers must focus on getting the job done at home first. While they are not quite the Capitals when it comes to home court dominance, they do have a 7-3 record there, while the Capitals have had some issues travelling, sitting at 5-5-. In saying that, the Capitals knocked off Southside on the road before anyone else could, and have proven that when at full strength – which they will be in this game – they are not afraid of anybody. In fact, the last time the Capitals played there, they enjoyed a three-point victory over the Boomers, a welcome result after Melbourne shockingly smashed them by 35 points a couple of weeks earlier at the same venue. That three-point win helped UC get the head-to-head over the Boomers when both were level on points, also winning by a point at their home court in January.

The Boomers have great depth on their list, and the likes of talls, Cayla George and Ezi Magbegor create headaches for any opposition trying to guard them. Rotating through the forward-center positions, George averages the most points of any Boomer, with 14.7 per game as well as 8.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks showing she can do it all. She was also the recipient of the DC Medal for 2020 signalling her importance to the team. Magbegor is not far behind with 13.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.0 blocks per game, making the duo keys to finding the win here. Lindsay Allen is also a regular playmaker with five assists per game to accompany her 14.6 points, while Sophie Cunningham and Madeleine Garrick round out the starting five and average double-figure points per game. Coming off the bench, Kalani Purcell has assisted off the boards with 4.5 rebounds as well as 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals, while Stella Beck has been the sixth player may times with a team-high off the bench, 6.1 points.

If we are talking depth though, it is hard to go past the Capitals who have six genuine starters in their side, making it the envy of the competition. Kia Nurse won the WNBL’s MVP for the season after she put up numbers of 21.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals. Kelsey Griffin missed a portion of the summer due to injury, but still managed to finish the season with 15.0 points, 10.9 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per game, while another player who missed games due to injury was Keely Froling (13.6 points, 7.4 rebounds). In their absence, Maddison Rocci (9.4 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.3 blocks) and Marianna Tolo (14.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.7 blocks) have stood up, while Olivia Epoupa has been one of the recruits of the year with the Frenchwoman padding the stat sheet thanks to 8.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 3.0 steals per game.

At home, Melbourne starts favourite and would be predicted to win in a thriller, but the kind of rare form the Capitals have found at the right time of year means it will be difficult. While the reigning premiers would be confident to close out the series next game with the dominance they have had at home, it would be a bigger relief to sweep their opposition in two games and earn the extra rest, especially if the Flyers end up sweeping the Lightning in Adelaide.

WNBL Semi-final 1 review: Capitals dominate Boomers in first semi-final outing

THE first semi-final of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) saw the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals get the job done against the Melbourne Boomers in game one of the best-of-three series.

UC Capitals (84) defeated Melbourne Boomers (70)

It was neck and neck for the first three quarters of the game, before the Capitals blew Melbourne out of the water in the final quarter. All scores were tied up at half-time with neither side willing to give an inch and going blow for blow setting up an intriguing battle. Unfortunately, it all fell apart for the Boomers in the final quarter with the Capitals piling on a massive 27 points to 15 in the final term, to run out comfortable winners in front of their home crowd. Melbourne simply had no answers for the Capitals who were slick across the court and backed themselves off the boards.

Kia Nurse led from the front once again for the Capitals starring with a game-high 25 points for her efforts. She was not alone though, with Olivia Epoupa plying her trade off the boards and hitting the scoreboard. The French import has not skipped a beat this season and proved why she is a force to be reckoned with recording a double-double thanks to her 19 points and 10 rebounds. Although Kelsey Griffin did not feature as highly in the points column, it was her rebounding work that separated her from the pack with a whopping 12 for the game. Keely Froling (11 points, six rebounds, two blocks) and Mariana Tolo (10 points, four rebounds) both hit the scoreboard for the Capitals doing their part to keep their chances of making it to the big dance alive.

Melbourne struggled to get its normal game play flowing with a host of its big time players well held throughout the match. Lindsay Allen led the way for the Boomers knocking down 17 points for the game. Allen was good with ball-in-hand, racking up five assists while also showcasing her defensive attributes with two steals. Guard, Madeline Garrick was the next closest with 16 points and five rebounds with Sophie Cunningham also chipping in to try and keep her side within striking distance. Dominant duo Ezi Magbegor and Cayla George failed to have their usual impact on the scoreboard with a collective 20 points but made their presence felt in the rebounds stats with four and eight respectively.

Both sides will meet again on Sunday, February 23, this time at the State Basketball Centre.

2019/20 WNBL preview: Semi-finals – Capitals look to extend winning streak over Boomers

THE first of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) finals action is set to kick off on Sunday with the reigning premiers, University of Canberra (UC) Capitals hosting the Melbourne Boomers. Both sides have been in ripping form as of late and coming off a break should be raring to go.

A one-point loss will be etched in the memory of the Boomers with the Melbourne side unable to get over the line in their recent clash against the Capitals who simply did just enough. In fact, the Capitals had the wood over them in Round 5 as well running away with a three point victory. But the Boomers know what it takes to conquer the Capitals downing them by a whopping 35 points early in their season well and truly announcing their dominance and will be looking to repeat those efforts in the semi-finals. The Capitals have really hit their straps in recent history with five game winning streak while their opponents have not had the same luck recording three wins out of their past five making for an intriguing battle on Sunday. University of Canberra are strong at home winning 10 of their 11 while Melbourne have an impressive away record winning eight of their 11 chances.

The Melbourne Boomers will be without Monique Conti with the Richmond AFLW star opting out of her basketball contract to focus on her footy career. Conti provided that little bit of x-factor off the bench and will be sorely missed but the Boomers are not without a plethora of other talented options. Opals star Cayla George is in a league of her own with the highly touted forward able to excite the crowd with her scoring prowess and dynamism. She is not alone with Ezi Magbegor able to inflict pain on the scoreboard sitting at a 53.3 per cent field goal accuracy with only Stella Beck above her on 61.4 per cent. The Boomers are a relatively well rounded team with each individual player able to stand up and take the game by the horns with Sophie Cunningham solid from the free-throw line and Lindsay Allen a proficient points scorer and handy around the basket.

The Capitals finished second for a reason the main one being their strong offensive options with Kia Nurse, Mariana Tolo and Keely Froling all able to blow a game wide open. All three players are renowned for their high scoring ability and attack on the ball making them a damaging trio for the Boomers. Kelsey Griffin is another go-to girl for the Capitals able to churn out the minutes and play at a consistently high level credit to her basketball nous. Although she is not as prominent as some of the other members in her team Maddison Rocci is no slouch racking up the rebounds and points. Olivia Epoupa leads the way for rebounds in the Capitals outfit with the Frenchwoman recording 164 for the season so far.