OVER the weekend, the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) held its 10th round of matches for the 2021/22 season. There were some cracking contests across a number of courts and the action continued on Saturday night with the UC Capitals hosting the Southside Flyers at the National Convention Centre in Canberra. The home side entered this clash as favourites given they have been in some impressive form throughout their current campaign, while last year’s champions have struggled to reach the heights of their 2020 season, largely due to a loss of some key personnel. With these expectations in mind, the match panned out as predicted, with the Capitals getting off to a ripping start and never giving up their lead to run out winners to the tune of 25 points.
The Capitals got off to an ideal start, storming away with a commanding lead early. They kicked off their match on a 7-0 run, immediately putting their opponents on the back foot. Led by Kelly Wilson‘s strong play both inside the paint and behind the arc, the home side took a double-digit lead in quick fashion as they looked to gain separation from their opponents in no time at all. By the time the first break rolled around, the Flyers trailed by 13 points and it was evident that their offensive game needed some work in the three quarters that were to come if they were to get themselves back in the contest.
The visitors opened the second quarter in much better fashion than the previous term, immediately looking to chip away at the deficit with some strong offensive play. They got the margin down to just nine points in the opening minutes, and were clearly an improved side. Unfortunately, they could not keep it up for the second half of the period, with the Capitals able to get on top in the final five minutes of the quarter, extending their first break advantage. By the time the buzzer sounded for the main break, the Flyers found themselves on the end of the 20 point margin, and their promising start to the quarter had come undone.
The Flyers were able to produce their strongest 10 minutes of the match in the third quarter. Not only were they finally able to get their own offence rolling (thanks to the strong play of Aimie Rocci and Rebecca Cole), but they were also able to halt the scoring of their opponents in a big way. The Capitals had enjoyed some seriously good scoring in the first half, but this was stopped in the third term, when the defence of the Flyers lifted in a big way. A lay-up to Emilee Whittle-Harmon on the eve of three-quarter time saw the visiting side trail by just 11 points going into the final term, a goal that seemed achievable given the momentum they had built.
The final period saw the Capitals able to recapture their form from the first half, delivering their highest scoring quarter for the match. Their offence looked as fluent as ever, as they moved the ball with plenty of success as they constantly found the right shot. The Flyers were able to score occasionally themselves, but they could not match the offensive output of their opponents as the result was sealed. In the end, it was a whopping 25-point margin as the Capitals continued their charge as championship contenders.
CLOSING THOUGHTS …
For the victors, Kelsey Griffin was strong with 19 points as she produced an impressive performance with ball in hand. Most of her baskets came from inside the arc, but she was also able to demonstrate her range with two buckets from downtown. Also impressive was Wilson, who flirted with a double-double as she racked up eight points and 11 assists in a terrific all-around performance. Off the bench, Alex Bunton poured in 21 points and 13 boards, both of which were game-highs. For the Flyers, Whittle-Harmon battled bravely all day to finish with 20 points herself in a terrific outing off the pine.