Capitals 76 Fire 68
Canberra Capitals vs Townsville Fire
The Canberra Capitals take on the Townsville Fire at AIS Arena. Photo: Rohan Thomson
It was a game where the Canberra Capitals wanted to make a statement - that they can still compete with the league's elite.
And that mission was accomplished with a gritty 76-68 win over finals-bound Townsville at AIS Arena on Friday night.
Their sole win in their previous 12 games was lowly West Coast, but recent form suggested a bigger scalp was coming.
And they were rewarded for their persistence with a dogged win against the fourth-placed Fire, despite being well out of finals contention.
After missing last week through concussion, centre Brigitte Ardossi (20 points, 14 rebounds) had a monster game to help drag the hosts over the line.
Ardossi clearly outplayed the Fire's star American posts Jess Adair and Kyla Standish to help Canberra out-rebound the visitors 42-27.
But it was a smart performance from Nicole Hunt that proved the difference, the Capitals point guard finishing with 21 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
Two clutch three-pointers from Michelle Cosier (10 points) midway through the last quarter handed the Capitals what appeared a match-winning 64-52 lead.
However, the match nearly turned through an Ardossi brain explosion, when she appeared to deliberately trip Fire guard Rachael Flanagan.
Townsville scored five unanswered points after the foul to get within five, but the Capitals steadied to register just their seventh win in 21 games.
Jess Foley was influential for the Fire, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Ardossi refused to comment on the tripping incident, but it may come under review from the league.
While the results column doesn't reflect it, the Capitals' application in recent weeks has been admirable despite being no chance to make playoffs.
Canberra's win was made more impressive by the fact skipper Jess Bibby had a nightmare game, failing to score a single point.
Hunt had issues countering opposition pressure early in the season, but has addressed her turnover problems.
"I think the big thing for us [was] we played four quarters. In past weeks we've had some really good patches and then some lapses,'' Hunt said. "No one ever wants to be in our position. Not playing finals, if we can upset someone along the way we'll take it.''
Hunt said Canberra's ability to stay composed after the Ardossi-Flanagan foul was key.
"I didn't see her foul, but they're things you have to handle,'' she said. "We did well to keep our heads and were able to hold on.''
CANBERRA CAPITALS 76 (Nicole Hunt 21, Brigitte Ardossi 20) bt TOWNSVILLE FIRE 68 (Jess Foley 15, Jess Adair 10) at AIS Arena on Friday night. Other result: Dandenong 87 bt Logan 67.