The JCU Townsville Fire will leave the nation’s capital wondering what could have been after tonight’s four-point loss against Canberra.
During a blistering start to the game, the Fire opened up a double-digit lead early in the opening term as Suzy Batkovic proved unstoppable in the low block.
The two-time reigning WNBL champions appeared to be back to their dominant best, but slowly and meticulously, the Capitals brought them unstuck as they claimed an 81-77 win.
Two-time Fire championship winner Kate Gaze produced a breakout WNBL performance with 18 points for her new team, while Marianna Tolo (17 points), Lauren Mansfield (15 points) and Mikaela Ruef (14 points and 17 rebounds) all played telling hands.
For the Fire, Batkovic reaffirmed why she is the premier post player in the WNBL with a game-high 27 points and 11 rebounds, while Mia Murray (13 points, six rebounds and five assists), Kayla Standish (13 points) and Natasha Cloud (10 points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals) were the best of the rest.
Despite shooting the ball at an efficient 48 per cent, the Fire gave up far too many offensive boards – Ruef had five of her own in the first quarter – and shot a paltry 64 per cent from the free-throw line.
The Fire will look to rebound tomorrow when they face the Sydney Uni Flames in their fourth road game in eight days.
Click here to see full box scores from tonight’s game.