The talk around Dandenong this past week had been focused on whether the Jayco Rangers could avenge their loss to Canberra last weekend. Well, the answer is yes.
In front of a large home crowd at the Dandenong stadium the Rangers showed the desperation coach Mark Wright has been asking for all season, fighting hard to take the match 72-68 against an equally determined TransACT Canberra Capitals.
Kathleen Macleod was inspiring for the Rangers, her stats falling just short of a triple-double with 13 points, 9 boards and 8 assists. Her leadership qualities and desire to win the ball at all costs proved to be the difference between the two sides.
For the Caps Alison Lacey (16 points, 7 rebounds) was effective from range while inside Suzy Batkovic (14 points, 7 rebounds) and Marianna Tolo (13 points, 9 rebounds) caused problems inside for the Rangers.
Dandenong made their intentions clear from the start moving out to a six-nil lead but Canberra fought back with strong inside work to level at 10-all. From there they traded baskets to 18-19 at the first break.
There was little between the two teams in the second quarter with Lacey keeping the Capitals in the fight with 11 points, and for Dandenong Jess Foley celebrating her 150th WNBL game, Abby Bishop and Tracy Gahan all hit the mark from the arc. MacLeod sealed a 42-39 half-time lead with two on the buzzer.
In a relatively low-scoring, defence-dominated third quarter, Canberra edged ahead to lead 57-53 at the change, but Dandenong turned the tables in a thrilling final quarter.
With baskets hard to come by for both teams, Foley and MacLeod hit huge threes to give the Rangers a 66-62 lead with two minutes remaining. Canberra refused to give up the fight leveling the score on the back of two from Tolo.
When Gahan put the Rangers back in the lead the final minute was played out with the Capitals fouling the Rangers, giving the Rangers four points from the line to finish 72-68.
Dandenong Rangers 72 (Jessica Foley 14, Abby Bishop 13, Tracy Gahan 12) defeated Canberra Capitals 68 (Alison Lacey 16, Suzi Batkovic, 14, Marianna Tolo 13)
By Alison Power