Canberra Capitals bounce back with thrashing of Sydney Flames in WNBL

Olivia Epoupa could steal the hubcaps off a moving car, giving Marianna Tolo and the rest of her Capitals teammates plenty to cheer about. Picture: Jamila Toderas
Olivia Epoupa could steal the hubcaps off a moving car, giving Marianna Tolo and the rest of her Capitals teammates plenty to cheer about. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Paul Goriss was looking for his side to make a statement. He got it with an exclamation mark to boot.

The Canberra Capitals claimed their 14th consecutive win at home in a 25-point thrashing of the Sydney Flames at the AIS Arena on Saturday.

The Capitals mentor wanted rebounds, he wanted steals, he wanted the defensive hustle Canberra had lacked in a forgettable road trip that saw them drop successive games.

Goriss got it all in spades as the Capitals surged to a 91-66 win inspired by Kia Nurse's 23 point outing and Olivia Epoupa's double double (12 points, 10 assists).

So impressive was Epoupa that Goriss thinks she would be able to steal the hubcaps off a moving car.

"She was two rebounds off a triple double. We had a chat to her during the week and it was just a matter of finding that middle ground for her so she could play her own game," Goriss said.

Capitals guard Maddison Rocci played a key role as Canberra bounced back in a big way at the AIS Arena. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Capitals guard Maddison Rocci played a key role as Canberra bounced back in a big way at the AIS Arena. Picture: Jamila Toderas

"She showed what she can do and why we wanted her here, and that will only continue. She's a demon on the glass, I was happy with her defensive effort.

"I never doubted this group with the talent, the work ethic and the heart we have, there was no way we weren't going to come back and make a statement.

"The girls handled the adversity of the two losses we had. To come home and make a statement like that seven days after is just a credit to them."

Marianna Tolo made her presence felt in her first start of the season which bumped rising star Keely Froling back to the bench - but she still put up 17 points.

That's not to say the defending champions had it all their own way throughout a landmark indigenous round as Sydney opened up an eight-point margin early in the second term.

But then Nurse started draining shots and Epoupa forced three second-quarter turnovers to spark a 15-2 run which saw the hosts take a 10-point advantage into the main break.

Goriss relied solely on a seven-player rotation until the final three minutes of the contest when emerging point guard Abby Cubillo was injected into the contest with Alex Delaney and Lily Scanlon following soon after.

By then the damage had been done with the Flames extinguished in a relentless effort from the resurgent Capitals boasting a newfound punch off the bench in Froling.

The most amazing part of it for Goriss? Froling has been balancing basketball with university studies and a lengthy placement as part of her degree.

But with the latter behind her, Froling is determined to rise to a new level.

"I played a lot in the off-season and I've kept rolling. I had a pretty good year last year so I'm feeling pretty confident in the league now, it's my fourth season so it's probably about time," Froling said.

Marianna Tolo had plenty of reason to cheer. Picture: Jamila Toderas

Marianna Tolo had plenty of reason to cheer. Picture: Jamila Toderas

"I'm just really enjoying playing. I know I can get to the ring and score, and give a bit of defensive punch too.

"Once our defence gets going, our offence comes to us. We knew if we got that right we would be okay. We came out really well.

"There's still areas to improve on and work on, but to be able to bounce back like that was a good effort."

"Definitely. I'm always trying to be the best one in the family and right now I feel like I've got that title," Froling laughed.

AT A GLANCE

WNBL round four: CANBERRA CAPITALS 91 (Kia Nurse 23, Kelsey Griffin 19, Keely Froling 17) bt SYDNEY FLAMES 66 (Alice Kunek 17, Jessica Kuster 16, Alex Wilson 7) at AIS Arena. Crowd: 1380.

This story Capitals extinguish the Flames first appeared on The Canberra Times.