Jess Bibby top scored for the Capitals in Sydney last night. Photo: Gary Sissons
NO LAUREN Jackson, no worries.
The Canberra Capitals delivered an emphatic statement they can win without their star centre with a 74-61 road victory in Sydney last night.
And in more daunting news for their opponents, Carly Wilson has her offensive mojo back.
The star small forward scored 16 points on the back of six-from-eight shooting to help the Capitals account for a scrappy Flames outfit in their Women's National Basketball League season opener.
Jackson arrived in Australia yesterday, but she is unlikely to be available for next weekend's double-header Queensland road trip to undergo rehabilitation on a back injury.
But new recruit Samantha Norwood (10 points, five rebounds, three assists) proved she's a more than handy replacement for Jackson in her first game for Canberra.
The former West Coast Waves forward combined nicely with Brigitte Ardossi (10 points, nine rebounds, two assists).
''Sam has been quality right throughout the pre-season for us,'' Canberra skipper Jess Bibby said. ''Her style of play suits the way we play, and she was terrific.''
After an admittedly poor shooting season last year, Bibby (18 points, five assists) scored 12 first-half points, while Wilson also drained 11 points before the main break to give Canberra a 41-30 half-time lead.
Sydney committed 12 of its 18 turnovers in the first half alone, and the Capitals made the Flames pay.
Down 57-50 at three-quarter time, Sydney threatened to launch a late comeback with the opening five points of the final term. But the Capitals steadied to avoid a repeat of last season's early jitters.
It took the seven-time champion five games to register its first victory in 2011-12. Canberra is determined not to dig a similar early hole this campaign.
Injuries forced Wilson to play in the post and as back-up point guard at times last season. Coach Carrie Graf this week urged her to take more shots now she's back in her preferred position.
''She was able to knock down those shots tonight, we needed her to do that,'' Bibby said.
AT A GLANCE
CANBERRA CAPITALS 74 (Jess Bibby 18, Carly Wilson 16, Samantha Norwood 10, Brigitte Ardossi 10) bt SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 61 (Tayla Roberts 15, Alicia Poto 11) at Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre last night.
Other match: Townsville Fire 63 bt Logan Thunder 61.