Capitals v Lightning
Without Lauren Jackson and mentor Carrie Graf, the Capitals fought valiantly but couldn’t match it with the star-studded Adelaide Lightning, losing 93-81 at the AIS Arena. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
The absence of their superstar and super coach was too much for the Canberra Capitals, who had their first home defeat of the season on Friday night.
Without Lauren Jackson and mentor Carrie Graf, the Capitals fought valiantly but couldn't match it with the star-studded Adelaide Lightning, losing 93-81 at the AIS Arena.
It ended a three-game winning streak for the Capitals at home.
But they have no time to lick their wounds after conceding an unusually high number of points as they travel to Bendigo to take on the ladder-leading Spirit on Sunday.
Jackson was ruled out indefinitely during the week as she attempts to shake injuries that have plagued her for the past 12 months.
Graf was in Melbourne for family reasons and missed her first game in almost a decade, with Sandy Tomley taking over the coaching reins.
While the Capitals displayed their scoring power, their loose defence cost them an unbeaten home record.
Tomley found out only on Wednesday that she would be in charge of a WNBL match for the first time.
''Obviously it's strange when your leader is out, but the girls handled it really well,'' Tomley said.
''They weren't bad disruptions, we had to deal with it. 'Graffy' has been here for eight years and I've been here for that time and that's the first game she's missed.
''We were confident, we scored 81 points and last year we never scored that. But defence is one of the things we have to knuckle down on and it's the basic principles letting us down.''
The defeat was frustrating because the Capitals had four players in double figures and they were always within striking distance.
Brigitte Ardossi continues to establish herself as one of the strongest players under the basket and finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Point guard Nicole Hunt hit some clutch three-pointers and had 16 points while Jess Bibby top scored with 20.
But in the end it was the Capitals' lazy defence that leaked points and allowed the Lightning to clinch a 12-point win.
AT A GLANCE
ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 93 (S Batkovic 22, J Hill 20, A Marino 13) bt CANBERRA CAPITALS 81 (J Bibby 20, N Hunt 16, B Ardossi 15) at AIS Arena. Crowd: 1121.