UC looks to Capitalise on third straight win

AFTER dropping the first eight games of the Women’s National Basketball League (WNBL) season, the University of Canberra (UC) Capitals are hoping to take a third straight scalp when they hit the court in the west tonight.

The Capitals clash with Perth Lynx at Bendat Basketball Centre from 6:30pm local time, coming off relieving upset wins over Melbourne Boomers and Adelaide Lightning by 12 and 13 points respectively. Those victories moved the Capitals to 2-8 for the season, just one win off the Lightning.

It is no surprise that the Capitals have risen from the ashes off the back of 30-plus point performances from Jade Melbourne. After putting up 30 points – four of 10 from long-range – five rebounds, 10 assists and three steals against the Boomers, the young gun backed that up with a sizzling 31 points – three of four from beyond the arc – five rebounds, seven assists and three steals facing the Lightning.

Melbourne has largely done all the heavy lifting, bringing her season points average up to 18.6, while Alex Sharp (15.2 points, 11.4 rebounds) is the worry for the Lynx off the boards. However Sharp will have her hands full going head-to-head with the best rebounder in the game in Anneli Maley who is averaging 13.8 in both points and rebounds.

The Lynx are coming off a three-game hot streak, defeating the Lightning, Sydney Uni Flames and then fellow contender Southside Flyers to move up to second on the ladder. After dropping three on the trot in late November, Perth found its mojo again to go 4-1 in the final month of the 2023 year so far. The clash against UC Capitals is a must-win, with back-to-back games either side of New Year against ladder leaders, Townsville Fire.

Speaking off Townsville, the Fire are coming off just their second loss of the season against the Boomers, and will be looking to bounce back when they head south to take on the Flames at Qudos Bank Arena on Friday. They will regain Sami Whitcomb again, with bigs Mikaela Ruef (9.9 points, 9.4 rebounds) and Zitina Aokuso (11.6 points, 5.2 rebounds) likely to stretch the Flames’ off the boards

Opal star Cayla George is coming off a red hot 17-point, nine-assist and eight-rebound performance against Bendigo Spirit after a quiet two-point effort against Melbourne Boomers a couple of days prior. George will be keen to atone for her five-point effort against Townsville on December 16 where she shot at a poor 16.7 per cent.

George will be well supported by fellow veteran Lauren Nicholson who has averaged 22 points, five rebounds and 3.5 assists in her past two games since a quiet 11-point game against the Fire.

Completing Round 9 of the WNBL – and the 2023 portion of the 2023/24 season – sees the Boomers take on the Spirit at Parkville on Saturday, while the third Victorian team – Southside Flyers – head to Adelaide for a battle against the Lightning. The Fire and Lyn conclude the week’s action on New Year’s Eve up in North Queensland from 7pm.

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