Fire claim finals berth
The JCU Townsville Fire have secured a seventh straight trip to the finals – the longest active streak in the WNBL – after defeating Canberra 99-66.
In a formidable showing, the Fire put the luckless Caps to the sword as their imposing front court featuring Darcee Garbin (23 points and four rebounds), Suzy Batkovic (21 points and seven rebounds) and Cayla George (14 points and 11 rebounds) flexed their muscles in the paint.
Not to be outshone, Micaela Cocks was just as brilliant from the permitter with 18 points on 5/5 from long-range, while Sydney Wiese dished out a game-high six assists.
The Fire's formidable front court did the business tonight as Darcee Garbin (23 & 4), Suzy Batkovic (21 & 7) & Cayla George (14 & 11) put the Caps to the sword. Micaela Cocks brilliant with 18 points on 5/5 from the arc. Check out all the key stats! #FireUpTownsville pic.twitter.com/iqNF71wZGz
— JCU Townsville Fire (@TownsvilleFire) December 21, 2017
Chasing a third title in four seasons, the Fire demonstrated their championship credentials, improving their record to 12-6 to join Perth in the post-season.
Remarkably, it will be the Fire’s ninth visit in 10 seasons after establishing themselves as a WNBL powerhouse.
While the margin was just two points at quarter-time, seven straight points from Darcee Garbin to start the second term split the game wide open.
The injection of Cocks proved just as telling as she hit three straight triples to open up a 13-point cushion.
The Caps could find few answers against the Fire as Garbin splashed her second triple of the term to provide a 46-31 lead at the main change.
“It’s a really pleasing win,” Fire coach Claudia Brassard said.
“It was certainly our most consistent performance of the season – offensively and defensively – and we shot the ball at a great clip.
“I thought we were really patient on the offensive end to find the right shots and our running game kicked in during the second half.”
Any hopes the hosts had of mounting a second half comeback were dashed by Batkovic, the five-time WNBL MVP, who entered beat mode to start the third quarter.
In a devastating run, the 37-year-old rattled off 15 consecutive points before Garbin subbed in and immediately took over.
— Regeneracom Sports (@regeneracom) December 21, 2017
A 19-point lead at the final change ballooned out to 36 midway through the final quarter before the Caps fought back.
The Fire will now fight for a top-two spot when they host Bendigo at Townsville Stadium on Saturday night.
Click here to see full box scores between the Fire and the Capitals.