UC Caps finish New Year’s Eve in style over Fire

FOR two teams that were looking to end the 2021 year in style and finish on top of the ladder at the end of the round, the match between Townsville Fire and UC Capitals was predicted to be a beauty. Both teams had an identical record heading into the New Year’s Eve clash at 2-1.

The Capitals had a tough start to the season with injuries and COVID scares. They were looking to add another win to the win column after having a dominant win over the Bendigo Spirit in their last match. Meanwhile Townsville Fire were looking to bounce back after a tight loss in their last match over the defending champions, Southside Flyers.

The Capitals welcomed back their captain, Kelsey Griffin, after a serious facial injury back in Round 1 against the Sydney Uni Flames, which was a huge inclusion, to provide that leadership on the court.

  • Team
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • T
  • Outcome
  • Townsville Fire
  • 13
  • 14
  • 4
  • 21
  • 52
  • loss
  • UC Capitals
  • 25
  • 17
  • 18
  • 16
  • 76
  • win


It was a quick, intense and fast start from both teams at a high-pace, with both teams coming out of the blocks. Brittney Sykes got the scoring going for the Caps, whilst Zitina Aokuso started the scoring for the home side.

From there, the Caps were on-song with their shooting offensively, as Alex Bunton and Kelly Wilson scored, and Griffin hit a reverse shot. Sykes teamed up well together to start the run. When Mia Murray hit a tough three-point shot, she reduced the margin to three, 10-7 with 7:17 left in the first. Brittany Smart got involved hitting a two-point jump shot. Both teams were able to hit tough floater shots and able to convert.

With both teams making subs and allowing the bench players to come into the game, they were all able to play their role, including Mikaela Ruef who nailed a shot from Sykes’ assist. Lauren Nicholson hit a tough two and backed it up with a layup to reduce the margin down to one, 12-11 with 5:26 left in the quarter.

Both teams increased the physicality towards quarter time, and were shooting the ball at 50 per cent at that stage of the game. Ruef continued her dominance after coming off the bench and was certainly a shining light, hitting tough shots, extending the margin to nine, 20-11, off a Nadeen Payne turnover.

Turnovers were a factor for the Fire, and not converting most of their opportunities especially hitting those easy shots offensively hurt the home side in the first quarter. With the Caps working well as a unit in the first quarter, they went into the quarter time break with a 12-point lead, 25-13.


The home side was desperate to get back into the ball game after a tough opening quarter, looking to come out firing and up their energy a notch. Alicia Froling came into the game having an impact, blocking Payne’s shot. Sykes hit five points to extend the Caps to 15, and did not miss a beat after the opening quarter. Payne was able to redeem herself nailing a two point step through layup, reducing the margin to 15.

Bunton was dominant for the Caps having an influence, hitting a tough reverse on Lara McSpadden, as well as being an option in the paint and pulling down those defensive rebounds on the other end of the court. Steph Reid was a shining light for the home side, coming off the bench bringing the hustle and energy the Fire were looking for. Reid made an impact by causing Sykes to turn the ball over out of bounds and hitting two free throws to reduce the margin to 15, 32-17 with 7:29 left in the second quarter.

With the physicality increasing once again in the first quarter, the Fire had some momentum back, causing the Caps to call a timeout to regroup. Griffin and Wilson teamed up well together offensively, not only getting others involved, but on the defensive end, the Caps as a unit were able to do the one percenters well and get stops. Whilst for the home side, McSpadden and Payne were a shining light creating some exciting plays.

With the tempo of the game intensifying another level once more before the half-time break, the Fire were desperate to find some scoring offensively. Meanwhile the Caps went to the foul line more and refused to allow the Fire to find any rhythm.  

After Aokuso hit a two-point jump shot, turnovers were once more an issue for the home side. Griffin had highlights of her own, blocking Billings on the defensive end and off a long pass, involving Jade Melbourne to steady the margin to 15 with 1:33 left in the second, 40-25.

Off a 17-14 second quarter from the Caps, they went into the half-time break with a 15-point lead, 42-27.

A key highlight in the first half was the battle of the bigs, with the Caps making the most of their opportunities. Bunton and Ruef had a huge impact, whilst for the point guards, the improvement was how they ccould involve themselves more into the match.

The Caps dominated the rebounding count at half-time, 27-15. Shooting percentages from the field were also in favour of the Caps, shooting 17/36 (47 per cent) compared to the Fire’s 12/31 (39 per cent). The three-point shot was relatively low for both teams, with both teams shooting one of nine, at 11 per cent.

For the Caps, Griffin had 13 points, Sykes and Ruef on nine points each whilst for the Fire, Aokuso had six points.


For the home side to start the second half, although the margin blew out, were looking to start the third quarter and show some pride and did exactly that with Sug Sutton hitting a two point jump shot. To the home sides credit, they brought energy to the defensive end and caused the Caps off two back-to-back shot clock violations.

After a shaky two minutes, the Caps were looking to reset. Ruef, Wilson and Griffin all stepped up when it mattered, extending the margin to 19 points, 48-29 with 5:52 left. Since the timeout, the Caps continued to hit tough contested shots offensively and get those stops defensively whilst for the Fire, with stagnancy being an issue with not much ball movement, they were unable to find any scoring punch and find a way to put scoreboard pressure.

At one point in the quarter, the Caps went on a 18-0 point scoring run and continuing to find the right players to hit shots and force the home side to turn the ball over. Another standout highlight offensively was Melbourne finding Ruef to Alicia Froling to get her involved in the contest. Off the back of a turnover by McSpadden, Reid hit a two-point lay up to finally add some scoring for the home side. After a dominant 18-4 third quarter by the Caps, they maintained their 29-point lead, 60-31 at the final break.


Whilst they were dominant for most of the game, the Caps were able put their bench players on in the final term, with Casey Samuels applying defensive pressure and finding players such as Smart to convert their shots. For the home side, whilst it was not their night, Reid was a shining light for the home side, hitting tough shots and applying great defensive pressure. For the Caps being dominant from start to finish, they finished 2021 in style with a 24 point win, 76-52.


In her return after injury, Griffin was solid with 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Brittany Sykes had 12 points, 7 rebounds and four assists, and Ruef finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists. For the Fire, Reid was the only player in double figures with 11 points, three rebounds and three assists.

Whilst the Caps were dominant in most categories, turnovers were relatively high, 22-19 in favour of the Fire. The Caps shot 31/63 (49 per cent) from the field, whilst the Fire shot 20/51 at 39 per cent.

Both teams have a double header match in Round 6. The Fire come against the Adelaide Lightning on Friday, January 7 at home and backing it up again on the Sunday, January 9 against the Bendigo Spirit at home. The Capitals face the Sydney Uni Flames on Wednesday, January 5 before making the road trip to Traralgon to face the Melbourne Boomers on Saturday, January 8.

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