It was never expected to be a tight match and the Canberra Capitals continued to improve their WNBL finals credentials with an easy 90-59 win over the Perth Lynx Friday night.
With just two regular season games left before the finals, the Capitals are now poised to finish in the top two.
If their dominant performance against the Lynx was anything to go by, their playoff opponents should be on notice.
The result against Perth was never the biggest concern for Canberra coach Carrie Graf.
She simply wanted to get away with a win and turn her attention to the Adelaide Lightning on Sunday.
And after securing a 31-point victory – Canberra’s seventh in a row – Graf was confident her players were nearing peak performance.
“I think in the first half we had some the best offensive execution we’ve had all season,” Graf said.
“We also got to rest everyone, I don’t think we played anyone over 25 minutes and being fresh against Adelaide is really important.
“It got physical there at the end and that was good practice for us going into Adelaide and Bulleen.”
Lauren Jackson and Abby Bishop got some valuable game time in their legs while the rest of the team never gave Perth a chance to find their rhythm.
Jackson finished with a game-high 27 – one more than her season average - while Bishop was solid with 12.
After Perth opened the scoring, the Capitals wasted no time establishing a lead and shut their opponents out of the match.
Graf signalled her intentions to keep her stars fresh early and after just five minutes she had her starting-five players resting on the bench.
That gave the Capitals’ second string a chance to impress and they didn’t disappoint.
They went to work early with some slick ball rotation in attack and pressured Perth in defence to cruise to an 18-point first quarter lead.
Jackson was a class above her opponents and she had 12 points in just five minutes on court.
The Lynx switched to a high-tempo defence in the second quarter but they continually fumbled at the other end of the court.
Graf’s team was relentless in defence and at half-time the visitors had 15 turnovers to Canberra’s six.
It was just one statistic the second-last placed Lynx was struggling with and the Capitals were ready to hit cruise control when the streaked out to a 50-29 lead for the start of the third quarter.
The game got physical in the second half with Jackson clashing with some of Perth’s smaller players.
Tempers threatened to boil over, but the Capitals remained composed to hold on to their lead.
Perth showed some signs of improvement under coach Vlad Alava and Melissa Marsh top-scored for her team with 17 points.
The Lynx now play the Bendigo Spirit on Sunday before a double-header weekend against the Australian Institute of Sport and Sydney Uni to finish its season.
AT A GLANCE
CANBERRA TRANSACT CAPITALS 90 (Lauren Jackson 27, Abby Bishop 12, Marianna Tolo 10, Jess Bibby 10) bt
GO FOR 2 AND 5 PERTH LYNX 59 (Melissa Marsh 17, Kate Malpass 15, Rebecca Mercer 9) Crowd: 1130.
By Chris Dutton for The Canberra Times
Photos courtesy of Bob Cooper Photography Canberra