WNBL Grand Final: Canberra Capitals defeat Sydney University Flames to become back-to-back champions
February 17th, 2007 at 03:02pm
In just over an hour from now, defending WNBL Champions the Canberra Capitals will be taking on the Sydney University Flames in the WNBL Grand Final.
Last year the Capitals defeated the Dandenong Rangers 68-55, but that might not be enough this year as Sydney Uni (who are the minor premiers) have defeated the Capitals in three of their four encounters this season.
It will most likely be a closely fought match, with Canberra being the number one defensive side this season, and the Flames being the team to win the most regular season matches. I’ll have a half-time and a full-time update (Update 4:14pm: And a quarter time and three quarter time update End Update), but for those of you who want more, ABC TV are covering the match live from 4pm Canberra (and Sydney) time, Sportradio.com.au have live online coverage, and the WNBL website will have live scores and stats (apparently…no link yet though).
Quarter Time: Sydney 20 lead Canberra 19
Half Time: Sydney and Canberra 39 all
Three Quarter Time: Canberra 50 lead Sydney 45
Full Time: Canberra 73 defeated Sydney 59
Due to a Microsoft server error on the WNBL live stats page killing their live score service, I’m going to take over.
Live: Canberra 73-59 Sydney Full Time
(This concludes live scores…match details to follow)
Match details filed 6:18pm: There’s not much for me to say and I’ll leave the nitty gritty to another journalist (it’ll appear below), but the bottom line is that the match was, as expected, close. Sydney seemed to have the upper hand in the first half, but Canberra’s status as the number one defensive team of the season paid off, as they managed to practically shut down the Flames’ offence in the second half, especially the last quarter. Sydney played well, but Canberra were just too good. Congratulations Canberra! End Update
Match report courtesy wnbl.com.au:
Caps go back-to-back
The Canberra Capitals have won back-to-back defencejobs WNBL championships following their 73-59 win over the Sydney Uni Flames at the Penrith Sports Stadium today.
An unanswered 15-point run from the Capitals in the fourth quarter laid the foundation for Canberra’s fourth WNBL title and Coach Carrie Graf’s fifth championship ring.
163cm Canberra point guard Nat Hurst scored an equal game high 15 points while five other Canberra players – Abby Bishop, Kellie Abrams, Donna Loffhagen, Tracey Beatty and Tully Bevilaqua – contributed double figures.
For Sydney Uni, Nat Porter scored 15 points while retiring legend and former Opals captain Trish Fallon finished with 13 points.
202cm Canberra centre Tracey Beatty was named the Grand Final MVP courtesy of her 12 point, 12 rebound, 3 assist and 3 blocked shot double-double.
Graf, who was also was named Coach of the Year, attributed the win to her teams dedication and hard work.
“This goes out not only to this team but every player I have ever coached,” she said.
“The players make me the coach I am.”
While Sydney Uni coach Karen Dalton put the loss down to a misfiring offence.
“I think the better team won on the day,” she said. “They shot the ball better than us and that’s what it comes down to in these games.
“I don’t think we responded very well offensively. Our offensive execution in the second half wasn’t fantastic.
“I think we gave up to many offensive rebounds, missed alot of foul shots and we just didn’t execute offensively and get the ball into the right people’s hands enough.”
The opening tussle for the ball immediately after the jump ball signaled both teams’ intentions which continued through the first quarter with eight fouls being called during the first three minutes.
Flames key forward Nat Porter opened the game scoring with a free throw.
Retiring legend and former Opals captain Trish Fallon proved why she is regarded as one the Australia’s greatest female basketballers, netting nine points in the quarter with her trademark composure.
Flames coach Karen Dalton had to inject Georgia Woodyard in earlier than normal after Eva Afeaki tallied two quick fouls in those opening minutes.
From there, both sides traded baskets, with Porter was given the task of defending 202cm Canberra tall Tracey Beatty.
Tully Bevilaqua subbed off two minutes remaining and with scores level at 13-all, her replacement, energetic guard Nat Hurst drove to the basket, collected the foul, dropped the basket and finished of the free throw for the three-point play.
But it was Fallon, in her 251st and final WNBL game that kept the Flames in touch with Canberra, who held a 20-19 quarter time lead.
Alicia Poto started the second quarter with four straight points, while the rest of Sydney Uni’s offensive threats warmed up and the Flames took 28-26 lead forcing Capitals coach Carrie Graf to call a time out.
The Flames maintained their attacking play with Eva Afeaki driving the lane for four second quarter points and allowing Sydney Uni to establish a 33-28 lead with four minutes remaining.
However, Canberra responded with a Nat Hurst a 3-point basket, a Kellie Abrams steal and basket to reduce the score to 35-34 before Hurst went to the free throw line and regained the lead by calmly netting both attempts.
A Michelle Musselwhite 3-pointer leveled the scores at 38-all, before both Kristen Veal and Kellie Abrams sunk one free throw each to leave the halftime scored at 39-all.
By halftime, both Sydney Uni’s Nat Porter and Canberra’s Nat Hurst had scored 10 points each while Fallon had nine points and Bibby eight points.
Beatty opened the scoring in the second half, netting a jumper before Nat Porter was fouled and duly sank her two free throws to level the score at 41-all.
The best defensive team in the league got to task and shut down the best offensive team in the league. The Capitals restricted the Flames to just six points for the term.
Interestingly, it was the third quarter during the major semi-final two weeks ago that Sydney Uni kept the Capitals to just six points.
Tracey Beatty nailed a four-foot jumper before a Jess Bibby free throw pushed the Capitals out to 45-43 lead.
Some outstanding hustle and movement from 18-year old Abby Bishop illustrated the Caps desperation, jumping on the ball and forcing a jump ball but Sydney Uni got the ball back as they had the possession arrow.
With three second remaining in the quarter, Tracey Beatty netted a jumper to give the Capitals a 50-45 three quarter time lead.
Nat Porter led all scorers with 13 points while Beatty had tallied 12 points and eight rebounds.
A Michelle Musselwhite free throw opened scoring on the final quarter before Sydney Uni turned to Mrs. Clutch Trish Fallon.
34-year old Fallon went on a six point scoring run to give the Flames a 52-50 lead with 7:01 remaining.
However, consecutive three point baskets from the inspirational Tully Bevilaqua and feisty Nat Hurst and another four points from captain Kellie Abrams gave the defending champions a healthy eight point, 60-52 lead with 4:17 remaining.
And the Caps didn’t stop there, scoring another five points through baskets to Abrams and Bevilaqua – for 15 straight points – to open up a championship winning 65-52 lead.
Musselwhite dropped two free throws to reduce the margin to 13 before Eva Afeaki registered her fifth personal foul and was out of the game.
Nat Porter dropped another two points to make the score 56-65 while another free throw from Musselwhite reduced the margin to 65-57.
An Alicia Poto foul sent Donna Loffhagen to the line, who re-established the 10-point margin.
A steal and assist from Tully Bevilaqua and two easy lay-ups from Donna Loffhagen pushed the score out to 72-57.
A final two free throws from Musselwhite moved the score to 59-72 before Nat Hurst sank a free throw of her own to give the Capitals a 73-59 victory.
The win gives Coach Carrie Graf her fifth WNBL championship and unfortunately for Fallon she retires one win short of going out a championship winner.
Canberra 73 (Hurst 15, Beatty 12, Bevilaqua 12) def.
Sydney Uni 59 (Porter 15, Fallon 13, Afeaki 8 ) at Penrith Sports Stadium
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