In a match that was decided in the final seconds of play, the Deakin Melbourne Boomers fell agonisingly short to the UC Capitals, going down 79-76 in a drama-filled Saturday night at the State Basketball Centre.
US stars Lindsay Allen and Sophie Cunningham both led from the front for the Boomers, racking up 18-point tallies and maintaining impressive field goal percentages with Allen at 63, and Cunningham at 58.
All five of the Boomers starting five made double figures, with Ezi Magbegor (12) and Maddie Garrick (10) shooting well from inside, and Cayla George finishing just shy of another double-double with ten points and eight rebounds.
However the UC Capitals, coming off an impressive win against the Southside Flyers on Thursday night, had just too much power on the court, Kia Nurse finishing with a game high 22 points, three rebounds and three assists. Marianna Tolo and Kelsey Griffin were also in irresistible form, both scoring 18 points, whilst Tolo chalked up five rebounds, and Griffin nine rebounds and three assists.
A fast start from the Boomers saw Garrick sink the opening basket of the game, but strong defensive pressure from the visitors left the Boomers trailing at quarter time, 21-11.
The Boomers fought back hard to take a one point lead at half time 37-36, in what was developing into a pulsating match.
The Boomers came out fired up for the third quarter, perhaps a little too much as George landed herself in foul trouble, spending the rest of the quarter on the bench.
The fourth quarter went down to the wire, with little to choose between the two sides the tension in the stands was palpable.
It all seemed to be going the way of the visitors, but the home side managed to narrow the gap to just a solitary point and looked as though they could steal the win.
However, a foul call and two shots for Nurse with only three seconds left on the clock sealed a three-point win for Canberra.
Head Coach Guy Molloy was full of praise for Canberra, in particular their composure in final quarter.
“We’ve had a couple of slow starts now so the zone really helped us to get back in the game and then again in-front by the half,” said Molloy.
“I think we got a little bit tired through the fourth quarter and credit to Canberra they found some better targets around the high post, and then they hit the two big shots that counted.”
Cunningham, who has endeared herself to the Boomers fans already with her fighting spirit, commented on her teammates ability to read her position and feed her the ball, bringing the Boomers back to within a whisker in the final quarter
“My teammates in the second half were giving me the ball when I needed it, I was just doing my defence and trying to keep the game simple.’
Deakin Melbourne Boomers 76 (Allen 18, Cunningham 18, Magbegor 12)
UC Capital 79 (Nurse 22, Tolo 18, Griffin 18)