Jess Bibby top scored with 25 points for the Capitals. Photo: Colleen Petch
They fielded just eight fit players, were belted by 37 points at Bendigo the night before and were rank $9 outsiders with the bookies.
But only a desperate buzzer-beater from Bulleen star Tess Madgen stopped a determined Canberra Capitals from pulling off a huge upset in Melbourne on Sunday.
Minus suspended forward Brigitte Ardossi and regular starter Michelle Cosier (broken nose), the Capitals looked set for another hammering when down 22 points early in the second quarter.
Canberra responded with a 19-4 run to finish the second quarter within just seven points at half-time. The Boomers rallied to build a 12-point lead with less than three minutes left, but a three-pointer from Capitals guard Nicole Hunt levelled scores with six seconds left.
However, Canberra was left shattered when Madgen (25 points, six rebounds) nailed a two-point bank shot on the buzzer to seal victory for the hosts.
Capitals skipper Jess Bibby, outstanding with 25 points from 9-12 shooting, said it would have ranked as one of the gutsiest wins in her 16 seasons in the league.
''It'd be right up there if we were able to, I can't remember too many times over the years having to play with eight fit players,'' Bibby said.
''We were down 20-odd early and it's tough to lose the way we did, but we showed a lot of character to get back into it. I'm pretty sure she [Madgen] wasn't planning on banking it in, there was a little bit of luck on their side and that sums up our season a little bit.''
Without Ardossi and Lauren Jackson, the Capitals were outsized against one of the biggest teams in the WNBL. Bulleen were on fire early from the perimeter, but Canberra used its greater mobility to find easy baskets in the back end.
Young centre Alex Bunton (13 points, 10 rebounds) finished with a double-double in her best performance in a Capitals singlet.
Bulleen were carried over the line by Madgen and Alice Kunek, who had a monster game with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
''We played a fair bit of zone [defence] and they were hitting shots early, that dried up and we were able to use our smaller [players] to our advantage by running at them,'' Bibby said.
''We were mixing up between man and zone and we probably lost Kunek a little bit at times. But we didn't win, it just goes down as a disappointing loss but the girls can hold their heads up.'' Canberra host West Coast on Friday.
AT A GLANCE
BULLEEN BOOMERS 77 (A Kunek 28, T Madgen 25, R Jarry 13) bt CANBERRA CAPITALS 75 (J Bibby 25, N Hunt 16, A Bunton 13) at the Veneto Club.