Canberra Capitals send Carrie Graf and Jess Bibby out on a WNBL high over Bendigo Spirit

It ended in tears, but "tears can be deceptive". It wasn't necessarily because of sadness, but simply to say goodbye.

And it couldn't have been scripted any better, with the Carrie Graf and Jess Bibby eras at the Canberra Capitals ending on a high.

Jess Bibby's last game and Carrie Grafs last game as coach.
Jess Bibby's last game and Carrie Grafs last game as coach. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Bibby hit what proved to be the sealer as the Caps beat Bendigo Spirit 78-71 at the AIS Arena on Saturday night.

But as the final siren sounded, both Bibby and Graf's work wasn't done - not by half - as the adoring fans brought flowers, gifts, handwritten notes, asked for selfies and autographs long after the game had finished.

It showed how much they'd meant during their time at the Capitals and that although Bibby might have hit her last three-pointer and Graf may have taken a knee on the sideline for the last time, they won't be forgotten.

Fellow legends of Canberra sport, such as former Canberra Raiders captain Alan Tongue, former Canberra Cannons guard Cal Bruton and former Wallaby Joe Roff, who's now in charge of the Capitals, were all on hand for the farewell.


"I think the emotion's just being part of something for so long, there's no sadness on my end," Graf said.

"Tears can be deceptive, it's more just the emotion of saying goodbye to something, or closing a chapter and kids getting your autograph and parents saying thanks for being a role model, those are the things that bring the emotion."

But it looked like the fairytale finish might never happen, with the Spirit dominating the opening quarter to lead 29-11 at the first break.

Capitals guard Abigail Wehrung came off the bench at the start of the second quarter and she was able to get the Caps up and running.

They led 40-36 at the main break and pulled away from there, with their bigs showing desperation on the boards.

Bibby opened her account with a three-pointer, the first of four for the night, and when she combined with Abby Bishop (20 points) to sink a jump shot to make it 75-68, it was effectively over as a contest.

Graf first coached Bibby when she was just 10 and 26 years later they were still working together as 10 years in the ACT came to end.

Bibby ending as the WNBL games record holder with 394, lifted on the shoulders of Bishop and Carly Wilson to a standing ovation from the crowd.

"Straight after the game it was pretty emotional, the fact that we win the game and the first person I see is Carly Wilson, who is my best friend ... we've known each other since she was 13," Bibby said.

"So that's 20-plus years of friendship that doesn't end today, but it's the end of an era playing here at the Caps.

"Ten years here has just gone by in the blink of an eye and 20 years playing in the WNBL, it just seems like yesterday that I was playing my first game.

"It's sad but it's exciting because it's time to move on to other things and I'm pumped to watch the new-look Caps next season."


Canberra Capitals 78 (Abby Bishop 20 points, 15 rebounds; Jess Bibby 16 points; Denesha Stallworth 13 points) bt Bendigo Spirit 71 (Kelly Wilson 24 points; Belinda Snell 18 points, 9 rebounds).