The UC Capitals regain their verve with OT win
By John Robinson IV
After a disappointing upset by the Townsville Fire, the UC Capitals looked to reinvigorate themselves in a 2 v 3 matchup against the Melbourne Boomers.
With over 1300 at the NCCC, the two teams battled it out in an overtime thriller full of blood, sweat and, for all the fans, stress.
After a scoreless two minutes by both teams, the Capitals put their first points on the board thanks to Maddison Rocci and Kia Nurse.
The Boomers would soon answer back thanks to young Opal Ezi Magbegor, who put on an early clinic with her interior scoring.
The Capitals showed feisty defense, holding Melbourne to multiple scoreless drives. Nurse found her shooting rhythm early and it showed to be an issue for the Boomers.
Marianna Tolo also got it going early, being a menace on the low block. The UC Caps showed their new and improved defense this quarter, playing full-court press that showed to be effective. The quarter concluded with the Capitals taking a commanding 20-14 lead.
Nurse would try to capitalise off her steady shooting from earlier by grabbing the Capitals first points of the quarter. The Melbourne Boomers would not let the game get out of hand as they fought to cut the lead to three.
However, Pickpocket Olivia Epoupa would attempt to numb the momentum with a steal that would lead to a Tolo “and-1”.
A Boomer’s “and-1” of their own and a three would tie the game with six minutes left in the second. Both teams would exchange baskets the majority of the final minutes of the quarter.
Epoupa hit a three assisted by Keely Froling and a steal on the next position would lead Rocci to the free-throw line. The half would finish with Canberra up 39-34 still holding onto their lead.
Tolo got the Caps started offensively in the third quarter with her interior game.
The Boomers would not go away as they tied the game with seven minutes to go in the third quarter. Epoupa continued to be an issue for the Boomers as she found ways to give the Capitals extra possessions thanks to her steals.
The flow of the game was back and forth as both teams refused to let the lead get out of reach. The quarter ended with the Melbourne fighting back to controlling a 53-51 lead.
Quarter 4 had all the makings of a nailbiter as just two points separated both teams. Rocci brought the game back to a draw and the crowd, with Chemist Warehouse clappers in hand, made the atmosphere in the NCCC explosive.
The Boomers would gain some leverage as they established a four-point lead with five minutes to go in the fourth.
Nurse drew a big foul on Magbegor that caused her to foul out which punctured their momentum. The Capitals cut the lead to one thanks to a basket by Tolo, but the Boomers would immediately answer.
Nurse then scored to bring it back to one again, however, Sophie Cunningham would draw a shooting foul to bring it back to a three-point lead. Another big three by the Boomers and an empty possession by the Capitals extended their lead to six.
Just as fans began to worry, Nurse revitalised the game with a big three. Only down by three with 26.5 seconds left, the Capitals were a defensive stop away from attempting to tie the game. A steal by Rocci would lead to an unsportsmanlike foul on Cunningham.
The tides of the game were shifting and you could feel the UC Capitals gaining momentum. Rocci goes 1 of 2 from the line and the Capitals gained a possession with 4.6 seconds in the game with a chance to tie or go for the win.
An ensuing possession by Nurse hits a pull-up jumpshot to tie the game, forcing the teams to overtime in a game that had become a war of attrition.
Overtime began and Nurse got the Capitals going with their first points, however, the Boomers would continue to match her points.
Froling, wearing a protective faceguard after taking a nasty fall, showed immense toughness getting a basket from the inside.
Rocci would get a crucial steal that would lead to Tolo drawing a foul to give the Capitals a two-point lead. After a Boomer’s bucket, Froling made a basket to bring the lead back. The Boomers hit a three but the Capitals would not be rattled as Froling hits the go-ahead basket.
Nurse played solid defense during the last possession to force a miss and Epoupa grabbed the rebound, dribbling until the time ran out. The Capitals earned a much-needed win, beating the second-placed Melbourne Boomers 76-75.
Cunningham led the Boomers with 22 points followed by Stella Beck with 17.
Nurse led all scorers with 23 points followed by Marianna Tolo with 22 and 9. Olivia Epoupa had 16 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 steals, while Keely Froling put up 12 points to overcome a painful hit.