Capitals 62 Fire 68
Capitals player Mikaela Dombkins disappointed after the match. Photo: Rohan Thomson
The Canberra Capitals will be praying for a Christmas miracle in the form of superstar Lauren Jackson after crashing to their seventh straight loss, leaving their play-off hopes hanging by a thread.
In their final game before the Christmas break, a gallant Capitals outfit threw everything at the highly fancied Townsville Fire before falling short at the AIS Arena on Friday night.
The Capitals are now 5-10 for the season and are three wins adrift of the fourth-placed Fire (8-6), which has two games in hand.
Capitals coach Carrie Graf. Photo: Rohan Thomson
Jackson watched from the Capitals bench, with captain Jess Bibby crossing her fingers the four-time Olympian can make her long-awaited return from a torn adductor muscle to help spark an end-of-season resurgence.
''We've still got nine or 10 games left - if we can get on a roll anything can happen,'' Bibby said.
''This program's not used to losing, it's certainly something we want to stop quickly. Hopefully, we can come back from the break fitter and more determined and hopefully we can get the big girl [Jackson] back in the new year and get some wins.''
Having led by nine points at half-time, the Capitals had that reduced to four at three-quarter time before scoring just 12 points in the last 10 minutes.
''When you're in a bit of a losing streak, you struggle to get over the line,'' Bibby said.
''People talk about confidence, but I don't think our confidence has dropped at all.
''We're all frustrated and a little bit angry because we know we're better than what we're showing at the moment.''
An aggressive Capitals team came out of the blocks determined to re-write last weekend's horror road trip to Perth and Adelaide.
This was a far more committed Capitals outfit than the one embarrassed in the past half-dozen games.
The players matched everything the Fire threw at them and justifiably took a one-point lead at quarter-time, before stamping their mark with a stunning 14-4 run to start the second period.
Holding a 36-26 advantage going into the second half, the Capitals could only watch as the Fire wiped out the deficit in the space of five minutes, going on a blistering 14-3 stretch to take the lead.
But the Capitals held on, Nicole Hunt showing great vision to hit Alex Bunton with a lay-up to beat the buzzer and push the lead to 50-46 at the final change.
The Capitals resume after the Christmas break when they host the Dandenong Rangers on January 4.
AT A GLANCE
TOWNSVILLE FIRE 68 (K Standish 15, M Cocks 14, J Adair 12) bt CANBERRA CAPITALS 62 (B Ardossi 12, C Wilson 11, N Hunt 10, J Bibby 10) at the AIS Arena on Friday night.