WNBL: Canberra Capitals cannot stop Suzy Batkovic in loss to Townsville Fire

Best game: DeNesha Stallworth top-scored for the Canberra Capitals with 26 points in their 97-83 loss to the Townsville Fire on Sunday. Photo: Stephen Blake, Akuna PhotographyA travel-weary Canberra Capitals took the fight to the Townsville Fire, but could not get across the line for their first win of the season.

The Capitals (0-18) defied their lowly position on the WNBL ladder to keep the pressure on the second-placed Fire.

But a game-high 37 points from Australian Opals star Suzy Batkovic propelled the Fire to a 97-83 victory over the Capitals at the Townsville RSL Stadium on Sunday.

American centre DeNesha Stallworth delivered her best performance for the Capitals since arriving mid-season, finishing with 26 points on 12-19 shooting and 10 rebounds.

Stallworth’s former team, the South East Queensland Stars, put a clause in her contract which stopped her from playing in Saturday night’s 40-point loss in Brisbane.

“She’s fitted into the group really well.She’s a nice girl as well as being a great fit for our team,” Capitals guard Jess Bibby said.

“It’s hard to imagine why a team would not want to have her as South-East Queensland didn’t, but she’s fitted in really well for us and played really well for us today.”

The Capitals did not have much time to dwell on their 115-75 loss to the Stars on Saturday night, flying out of Brisbane at 7am on Sunday ahead of the 3pm tip-off in Townsville.

“Everyone in this group, regardless of our win-loss record, has a fair bit of pride in what they do and it certainly hasn’t been easy being defeated the way we have on occasions this year,” Bibby said.

“We certainly don’t have a group that’s going to continue to lie down and take a beating.

“We certainly put everything out on the floor today and tried as hard as we could and there were some positive signs.”

The Capitals suffered another blow early on against Townsville when captain Carly Wilson left the court in the first quarter due to a quad injury sustained the previous night.

Despite being down to seven players, the Capitals remained within striking distance as Batkovic continued to hit shot after shot.

“Suzy was the one who kept ticking the scoreboard over for them and we were able to lock up everyone else,” Bibby said.

“After last night’s result, today was going to be interesting playing a very good side who were well rested and well prepared, and we flew in and had two hours before we left for the game.

“To the girls’ credit, we played some pretty good stuff for four quarters and in those circumstances, that’s all you can ask for.

“Hopefully it’s a stepping stone to getting a W against Adelaide next week.”

​The Capitals are back in action against the Adelaide Lightning (6-11) at the AIS Arena next Sunday.

WNBL: Townsville Fire 97 bt Canberra Capitals 83 at Townsville RSL Stadium on Sunday.

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