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Lightning stoke the Fire, Caps cap Melbourne

IF Adelaide Lightning tonight expected a living room game of origami, it copped a rude shock from a Townsville team which refused to fold along the dotted lines, giving a much feistier effort than the final 77-60 scoreline suggested.

In fact it wasn't until the final three minutes when Steph Talbot seized personal control of the game that Lightning turned a slender 69-60 buffer into an 8-0 conclusion at Titanium Security Arena.

By doing so, they also firmly closed the door on any other team still harbouring dreams of crashing the post-season party, only the final positioning of the leading quartet yet to be cemented. And that took another twist tonight when Canberra beat Melbourne 76-75.

But in Adelaide it was Tess Madgen who had 14 points in the first quarter - later amended to 11 but erroneously a 3-pointer Madgen made was credited to Christina Boag. The only problem with that is Boag didn't hit the court in the first quarter.

COME GET SOME: Steph Talbot led from the front after quarter-time and finished brilliantly.

Madgen was the driving force behind ensuring the game was locked up at 22-22, Townsville down double digits at quarter-time in both previous games against Lightning.

Julie Vanloo gave the Fire the lead to open the second quarter but Adelaide peeled off a 14-2 run from there to go 36-26 clear, the run book-ended by Talbot inside, consecutive 3-pointers from Chelsea Brook, then two baskets to Nicole Seekamp setting up the win.

Brianna Turner (15 points, nine rebounds) got the lead to 40-28 before Bridget Carleton's three and Darcee Garbin (16 points, 10 rebounds) sliced it back to 40-33 by halftime.

Lauren Nicholson (14 points, seven rebounds) kept Adelaide rolling with two strong baskets to open the third quarter before Garbin interrupted for 35-44.

But it was a minor interruption in an 11-2 run as Seekamp (12 points, nine assists) fed Turner's cut, ahead of a Nicholson steal which Talbot then lobbed for Turner.

Kathryn Westbeld's 3-pointer made it 51-35 and timeout Townsville. The Fire hit back immediately with a Vanloo rainmaker three, sandwiched between two Garbin baskets in a 7-0 reaction.

Talbot, with a little help from her friends, was quietening Madgen but it took another 7-0 Lightning lights-out to close the quarter ahead 61-47.

SA COUNTRY ANYONE? Nicole Seekamp driving last night on Tess Madgen.

Westbeld had four points and Nat Hurst two as Adelaide pulled 67-49 clear for another timeout Townsville, and terrific response.

Capped by a Madgen triple, the Fire's 8-0 pushback made it 57-67.

It was Talbot time and first she pulled off a super drive through traffic for 69-57. Vanloo struck another cloud-bursting triple, but 60-69 was the visitors' last hurrah as Talbot hit a long basket and Seekamp scored inside.

Then Talbot won the ball back and fed Turner on the break. She also found a great dish to Westbeld and finished with a defensive board, her 10th rebound in a 16-point double, plus a game-high three blocks.

"We didn't play our best basketball but we held them to 60 points," Lightning coach Chris Lucas said. "It was a bit of a grind and they did a good job of taking us out of some of our stuff.

"We had turnovers early, we gave up four offensive rebounds but I thought we had opportunities out of timeouts to put our foot on their throats and we didn't take those opportunities.

"I thought Steph did a really good job defensively on Tess Madgen after the first quarter."

Madgen finished with 19 points on the stats but it felt like more... like three points more.

ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 77 (Talbot 16, Turner 15, Nicholson 14, Seekamp 12, Westbeld 10; Talbot 10 rebs; Nicholson 9 assts) d JCU TOWNSVILLE FIRE 60 (Madgen 19, Garbin 16, Vanloo 10; Garbin 10 rebs; Madgen 4 assts) at The Lighthouse, Titanium Security Arena.

IN Canberra, Melbourne was without Lindsay Allen for the second game in a row and succumbed to the Capitals 75-76, losing in overtime for the second game in a row.

And just like last round's heartbreaking overtime reversal to Southside, Melbourne looked to have this won in  regulation, ahead 66-60 on Maddie Garrick's jumper, 43 seconds left.

Kia Nurse (23 points, seven rebounds, seven assists) swished a 3-pointer to keep Canberra alive and after a Boomers turnover, Sophie Cunningham (22 points at 64 percent) was nailed with an unsportsmanlike foul which put Maddie Rocci to the stripe.

She made one free throw for 64-66, and Nurse then hit the tying basket to send the game into a five-minute extension.

Cunningham then twice gave Melbourne the lead, 68-66, then 70-68 before Keely Froling tied it and Marianna Tolo's free throws gave Canberra the lead.

Trailing 72-74, Garrick sent a tremor through Canberra with a 3-pointer for the 75-74 lead before Froling sealed it, Olivia Epoupa with her 16th rebound and ninth defensive board finding the ball after Garrick's last shot for the win was astray.

UNIVERSITY of CANBERRA CAPITALS 76 (Nurse 23, Tolo 22, Froling 12; Epoupa 16 rebs; Epoupa 7 assts) d DEAKIN MELBOURNE BOOMERS 75 (Cunningham 22, Beck 17, Magbegor 14; George 8 rebs; George 8 assts) in overtime {66-66} at Study Hall, National Convention Centre.

Jan 17

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.