Lightning 73 Capitals 62
Capitals vs Lightning
Canberra Capitals player Carley Mijovic takes a shot over the top of Adelaide Lightnings player Jennifer Screen. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
THE Canberra Capitals are adamant they can avoid slumping to their worst season in more than a decade, despite suffering a heartbreaking 11-point loss at the AIS Arena on Saturday.
The Capitals missed out on a celebration victory for new WNBL life member Carly Wilson and their faint finals dreams vanished when they lost to the Adelaide Lightning 73-62.
Instead of focusing on the play-offs, the seven-time champion Capitals now have to concentrate on making sure they do not record their worst season since 1998-99. They have won just six games and need at least one more victory from their final six games to avoid the worst-win loss record in 15 seasons.
Adding to their woes, star point guard Nat Hurst scored just two points against the Lightning. Usually a prolific scorer - she has amassed more than 30 twice this season - Hurst has scored just 14 points in the past four games and only seven since Christmas. She took just six shots and two three-point attempts in her 38 minutes, only scoring when she went to the free-throw line in the third quarter.
Canberra coach Carrie Graf backed her marquee recruit to bounce back, but said the 30-year-old needed to rediscover her self-confidence.
''She was wide-open naked for a three-point shot in the last quarter and didn't take it … it's self-confidence and belief,'' she said. ''She's that good; she'll make the shots if she's got an attacking mindset. The doubt key is creeping in and she just has to boot that out of the gym and keep shooting.''
Hurst, Abby Bishop and Carley Mijovic will join the Australian Opals in camp on Sunday and won't return to Capitals training until Friday.
It is far from ideal as the Capitals aim to restore some pride against the West Coast Waves this week.
The Capitals hit the front at the end of the third quarter on Saturday but went cold in the final 10 minutes and were outscored 23-11. The margin blew out as Canberra gave away a flurry of fouls to try to save the game.
The loss was particularly tough after 286-game veteran Wilson was given WNBL life membership before tip-off. Her teammates dyed her socks pink and presented them to her before the game in the hope it was a lucky charm. Wilson has worn pink socks for almost all of her career, but the WNBL-issued socks no-longer come in her favourite colour.
''There was just something missing, everyone was flat. It was a grind and everything was hard; we couldn't drag ourselves out of it,'' three-time championship winner Wilson said.
Adelaide star Jess Foley suffered a suspected broken jaw in the first half when she collided with Bishop's elbow.
AT A GLANCE
ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 73 (L Hodges 24, C Shegog 15, A Marino 14) bt CANBERRA CAPITALS 62 (A Bishop 17, J Bibby 17, A Bunton 10) at AIS Arena.