Rangers 92 bt Capitals 86
Brave Capitals fall to Rangers
The Capitals reflect on their loss to Dandenong. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
THE Canberra Capitals won plenty of admirers after almost pulling off one of the bravest victories in their history against Dandenong at the AIS Arena on Saturday.
The hosts were reduced to just five players for the final quarter after star forward Abby Bishop hobbled off with an injured ankle early in the second quarter of their 92-86 loss to the Rangers.
Capitals centre Alex Bunton was fouled out late in the third term, leaving Carley Mijovic as their only ''big'' with four guards.
Bishop twinged the same ankle on which she had surgery during the off-season, but said afterwards she was confident it was not a long-term injury.
Throw in stalwart Carly Wilson's absence for family commitments, and the Capitals had every excuse to throw in the towel.
Instead, despite being out-rebounded 52-24, they almost shocked one of the league's deepest and talented outfits before succumbing by six points.
A three-point play from skipper Jess Bibby put the Capitals ahead 82-78 with three minutes left.
But a Rangers three-pointer from Alice Kunek with the scores level at 84 and 40 seconds remaining proved the back breaker.
They showed tremendous heart, but the Capitals were fuming after some pivotal refereeing decisions helped change the game's momentum.
When Bunton was fouled out, Canberra coach Carrie Graf asked an official, ''Do you want to play? We've got no one left.''
''I get in trouble if I talk about decisions, but I thought we were a little hard done by down the stretch,'' Bibby said.
''There were some calls that weren't made that had an effect on the game.
''Then we go down the other end and there's 'and ones' on ridiculously soft stuff. That's a high-class basketball game. Pretty disappointing.''
The Capitals are now 2-4 heading into a daunting road stretch, and don't play in Canberra again until December 20.
While disappointed with the loss, Bibby said the team would take plenty of confidence before this week's double header with the Rangers and Melbourne Boomers.
''To play with one big and four midget guards … People spoke about our effort in the first few weeks, but there's no problem with that now,'' Bibby said.
''It's disappointing to lose, but it shows what this group is capable of. It shows the heart of this group and our conditioning. I said to the group at the end that there's no backward steps from here, that's the standard we've set.''
Mijovic (19 points) was inspirational in the post, while Bibby and point guard Natalie Hurst (18 points each) were also strong.
Dandenong and Australian Opals guard Jenna O'Hea scored 17 of her 25 points in the second half, while former Capital Brigitte Ardossi scored 17 in her return to Canberra.
DANDENONG RANGERS 92 (Jenna O'Hea 25, Kayla Pedersen 22, Brigitte Ardossi 17, Alice Kunek 15) bt CANBERRA CAPITALS 86 (Carley Mijovic 19, Jess Bibby 18, Natalie Hurst 18, Nicole Hunt 14) at AIS Arena on Saturday. Crowd: 1017.