The UC Capitals secure home court advantage with win over Adelaide
The UC Capitals will tip off the semi-final series in Canberra after a two-point win over the Adelaide Lightning secured the home court advantage.
In front of 1687 fans, the biggest Canberra crowd of the season so far, the reigning champions defeated the fourth-placed Lightning, 73-71.
The win means that the UC Capitals will play the Melbourne Boomers in the semifinal series with game one and three (if needed) at the AIS Arena.
Head Coach Paul Goriss said it’s huge knowing they have home court advantage going into playoffs.
“Knowing what Canberra did for us last year in the semi-final and grand final series, we really wanted to lock away a home court advantage. Canberra really gets behind us and the team loves playing in front of a home crowd. It just gives us a boost with the amount of people, the noise and electricity that the Arena provides.”
The win also means the UC Capitals have won the series split over the other top teams in the league.
The UC Capitals reintroduced Kelsey Griffin into the starting lineup and welcomed back the support of Keely Froling. However, despite the Lightning missing Australian Opal Nicole Seekamp, who injured her ankle in Thursday night’s game against Perth, the UC Capitals win didn’t come easy.
Former Capital Natalie Hurst, who played her final regular season game before retirement, started in Seekamp’s place.
Adelaide had a stronger start, finishing the quarter with a three-point lead and then extending that to 10 within the first three minutes in the second. The Lightning had found their rhythm fast with eight of their 10 players on the scoresheet by the start of the second quarter.
Adelaide’s momentum didn’t last long, though, as the UC Capitals managed to overcome the deficit by the end of the first half, getting ahead 37-36 thanks to a three by Nurse followed by a Tolo basket in the final minute.
The third quarter provided no indication of which team would win, but when Nurse came out with five points within the first minute of the fourth, Capitals fans revved up to build momentum. It went down to the final second – literally, one second – as Adelaide had the ball just outside the arc, but to no avail.
Kia Nurse led all scorers with 28 points and 9 rebounds followed by Rocci (16) and Tolo (13).
Adelaide’s Steph Talbot posted a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Lauren Nicholson put up 16 points.
Goriss, Tolo, Nurse and Epoupa will now go overseas for a short stint to fulfil their international commitments before returning for the semifinal series.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to break for two weeks and who knows what will happen after that. Momentum now is kind of dead and gone, and as we just spoke about as a group, it’s a whole new season when we come back,” said Goriss.
The WNBL will announce playoff dates tomorrow and ticket information will be available soon.