Sport

Canberra Capitals ready to play finals 'spoiler' after breaking WNBL duck

They've finally worked out how to win and the Canberra Capitals are relishing the chance to wrap up their season by playing the "spoiler" against playoff contenders.

DeNesha Stallworth will be available for Canberra's clash with South-East Qld on Sunday after she was forced to sit out ...
DeNesha Stallworth will be available for Canberra's clash with South-East Qld on Sunday after she was forced to sit out the last match against her former side.  Photo: Jay Cronan

The Capitals played gritty and tough basketball to win its first game of the season against third-placed Perth 80-77 on Friday night.

Next up is the crisis-ridden South-East Queensland Stars up north on Sunday, who have won their last five matches to surge to fourth, despite being placed in liquidation and head coach Shane Heal moving on.

Canberra finishes with a home game against another finals contender Bendigo next week.

The Capitals are keen to crash the party and make the farewell of head coach Carrie Graf and WNBL games record-holder Jess Bibby a celebration.

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Canberra lost narrowly to Adelaide and Dandenong before breaking their duck against Perth, where they rewarded for a renewed fighting spirit.

"I thought if we kept progressing with that sort of effort it would come for us, and it did," Graf said.

"We have to travel but we'll be buoyed by this win. The girls will feel good about themselves and if we can get out and play hard like that [we can win].

"SEQ in some ways are very much like that [Perth] team, they're a high octane team who can score a lot with three point shooters and penetrators.

"This game showed us we can compete well with them, we'll be up there ready to have a crack."

The Capitals were destroyed 115-75 in their last road trip against the Stars three weeks ago, but can take heart from how they turned the tables on Perth after the Lynx thrashed them 89-63 in Canberra last month.

Canberra will be able to play mid-season recruit DeNesha Stallworth against the Stars on Sunday after a contract clause prevented her from playing her former side last time.

Stallworth was in strong from against the Lynx on Friday, scoring 21 points off 8-11 shooting.

"For us we are playing for something, the girls are playing to send off some of our great players," Graf said.

"It's important we put it on the floor and we certainly did that against Perth."

After Heal's departure, the Stars rallied last week to beat Adelaide and Perth on the road, extending their winning streak to five games to surge to 13-8 and fourth spot.

The Capitals are keen to play "loose" and use the fact they have little to play for other than pride to their advantage.

"We finally won the rebounding contest [against Perth], we know it's a fact generally if you do that you're going to give yourself a chance to win," Graf said.

"We battled hard, defensively I thought we were tough at times.

"Other than our burp against Perth here in January, out of Christmas most of our contests we've been thereabouts."

WNBL

Sunday: South-East Queensland Stars v Canberra Capitals at Logan, 5pm (AEDT).