The University of Canberra Capitals may soon be perceiving Townsville RSL Stadium as their own house of horrors.
Following a 48-point loss to the JCU Townsville Fire at the business end of the 2014/15 Wattle Valley WNBL season, the Capitals, who continue to be undermanned, fell behind by as much as 57 midway through the third term before enduring a 60-104 loss.
The result was just what the Fire needed to spark their title defence after a disappointing showing against Bendigo in round one, with Chris Lucas using the opportunity to trial a number of combinations including the debut of Ainsley Walsh.
During a blistering start, the Fire raced to a 20-6 lead, and unlike last week’s disappointing showing, they continued to keep the foot on the Capitals’ throats as they led from start to finish.
Skipper Suzy Batkovic was in commanding form with 30 points and six rebounds, with her 13th point midway through the second term ensuring she became just the 10th player in WNBL history to post 4000 points.
Reigning Rachael Sporn Medallist Mia Murray was just as influential with 18 points and eight rebounds – pacing the Fire during the opening term when she was the dominate player on the floor – while Natalie Novosel proved a sparkplug off the bench with 17 points, three assists and two steals.
“I’m really pleased with the approach of the girls today,” Fire coach Chris Lucas said.
“I was really tough on them during the week, and I think that last week’s not where we want to be and there were some great improvements this week and that’s what I am pleased about.
“I thought our team defence had patches that were exceptional – at one stage we had 11 stops in a row and really quite pleasing and that’s not going to happen every game…I think that’s really good reward for the girls after a really tough week.”
With Australian star Lauren Jackson missing through injury, the Fire dominated the paint as Batkovic, Tamara Tatham (10 points and five rebounds) and Cayla George (eight points and nine rebounds) went to work at both ends of the floor.
Murray was lethal from beyond the arc, while Novosel was just as deadly as the Fire made an empathic statement to the rest of the league.
With the game sewn up, Lucas inserted Walsh – a born and bred Townsville junior – into the game as she became just the 94th player to represent the Fire.
Click here to see full stats from the Fire’s 44-point victory over the Capitals.