Carly Wilson top scored for the Capitals against Bendigo on Sunday. Photo: Julie Hough
A terrific defensive display by the Canberra Capitals inflicted the first defeat on the Bendigo Spirit on Sunday and kept them in the WNBL top four.
In what will be remembered as one of their gutsiest victories, the Capitals - minus superstar Lauren Jackson and six-time championship-winning coach Carrie Graf - upset the ladder leader 59-54.
Veteran guard Carly Wilson top-scored for the Capitals with 14 points.
After giving up 93 points in their loss to the Adelaide Lightning at the AIS Arena on Friday night, the Capitals restricted the Spirit to just 30 per cent shooting from the field to silence the Bendigo Stadium crowd - a statistic that thrilled Canberra skipper Jess Bibby.
''We were pretty determined after Friday night to come down here and play better,'' she said.
''Defence was a huge focus for us today and getting our rotations and those sort of things right, and it really worked for us.''
The win gives the Capitals a 5-3 record and consolidates fourth spot on the table, while the Spirit remains on top despite having its six-game unbeaten streak to start the season ended.
''Bendigo have had a great start to the season but we certainly don't look at their line-up and be intimidated or concerned that we couldn't match it with them,'' Bibby said.
''Just the opposite really. We were confident we matched up really well and were a huge chance to win the game.
''The scoreline shows it was five [points] at the end, but we had a very comfortable lead throughout and we played, probably defensively, the best we have all year.
''Hopefully that's a platform for us to continue on for the rest of the year.''
Leading by two points at the first break, the Capitals dominated the second quarter to take a handy 42-27 lead into half-time.
The Capitals stretched their advantage to 17 points early in the third quarter before Opals point guard Kristi Harrower single-handedly dragged the Spirit back into the game on her way to a game-high 21 points.
The Capitals led by just four points with 13 seconds on the clock, but were able to hang on.
Jackson is out indefinitely with back and hamstring injuries, while Graf is in Melbourne due to personal reasons.
Samantha Norwood stepped up strongly in Jackson's absence, grabbing 11 rebounds to go with eight points for the match.
AT A GLANCE
CANBERRA CAPITALS 59 (C Wilson 14, N Hunt 9, S Norwood 8, M Cosier 8) bt BENDIGO SPIRIT 54 (K Harrower 21, C Perera 9, C Aubry 9) at Bendigo Stadium on Sunday.