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WNBL Rd.14 Wrap: Capitals statement

STILL certain Townsville is assured of being back in the playoffs to defend its WNBL title and grasp that elusive "threepeat"?

The Fire have not been convincing at all this season, not since opening their title defence by blitzing Perth in Round 1.

But the Lynx came back to win that season-series and while Townsville's recent five-win streak looked good to some, there was a lot of smoke and not so much Fire as mirrors.

Two wins over Adelaide, two over Melbourne and a killing of Canberra certainly helped in the Wins column.

But the Capitals turned around that 33-point road loss with a six-point win in Canberra, taking the gloss off Suzy Batkovic's milestone 300th WNBL game.

In the process, the Caps also kept alive their slim Final Four hopes while severely denting Townsville's.

Batkovic went down like the trooper she is in her 300th, with a game-high 23 points, 12 rebounds and five assists.

(Even Brendan Joyce was impressed. Maybe she's a player to consider for the Opals, down the track!)

Marianna Tolo was big for the Caps and Kate Gaze continued to haunt her former team.

If Townsville IS to recover, Bendigo has to be right in its sights, the Spirit down point guard Kerryn Harrington through injury and drawing less each week from Gabe Richards.

Leilani Mitchell followed up an impressive game against Lightning in Adelaide, where her steal on the home side's final inbounds play led to the winning margin, with 25 points and five assists as Sydney rocked Bendigo.

Belinda Snell's return also was key for the Flames this round, her four triples against Adelaide keeping Sydney in the tussle as the revitalised Lightning refused to go quietly.

Colleen Planeta gave it the lead at 74-73 before Alex Wilson's driving basket pushed Sydney ahead 75-74 with seven seconds left.

That's when Mitchell stole the inbounds pass to set Wilson away for the final scoreline.

Adelaide had nothing to feel bad about, delivering its third straight stellar performance. And Sydney rode that win on to beat the Spirit and shore up its position in the four.

Lightning captain Laura Hodges (above) also made a solid return from a hamstring tear for Adelaide.

There was desperation aplenty in the Dandenong-Melbourne clash which went into overtime before the Rangers properly could cap off their 25th Anniversary celebrations with a win.

Star photographer Michelle Couling captured this ripper (above) which is worth a thousand words of desperation description.

Melbourne had a 9-point third quarter, then Dandenong went for nine in the last and was in serious trouble down 51-56 ahead of the final minute until Natalie Novosel saved it in regulation with a 3-pointer and the tying bucket, Brittany Smart's prayer at the end astray.

Dandenong hit its straps in the extension though, outscoring Melbourne 17-5 to add drama to its day of celebration.

Rd.14 Results

SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 77 (Wilson 15, Snell 14, Mitchell 12; Hamson 8 rebs; Mitchell 5 assts) d MAC ADELAIDE LIGHTNING 74 (Planeta 18, Hodges 14, Roberts 12, Logic 10; Roberts 9 rebs; Logic 10 assts) at The Light House, Titanium Security Arena.
SYDNEY UNI FLAMES 71 (Mitchell 25, Snell 11; Taylor 10 rebs; Mitchell, Snell 5 assts) d BENDIGO SPIRIT 68 (Griffin 17, Raincock-Ekunwe, Dietrick 13, Payne 10; Griffin 9 rebs; Karaitiana 4 assts) at the Spirit Level, Bendigo Stadium.
DANDENONG RANGERS 73 (Malott 24, Novosel 18, Cumming 14, Blicavs 12; Blicavs 9 rebs; Cumming 5 assts) d MELBOURNE BOOMERS 61 (Smart 18, Thompson 12, Garrick 10; Thompson 9 rebs; 6 with 2 assts) in overtime at The Ranger Station, Dandenong Stadium.
CANBERRA CAPITALS 73 (Tolo 17, Mansfield 15; Tolo 8 rebs; Ruef 3 assts) d TOWNSVILLE FIRE 67 (Batkovic 23, Murray 16, Standish 10; Batkovic 12 brebs; Batkovic 5 assts) at Southern Cross Stadium.

Jan 15

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