Canberra Capitals on top of WNBL but Kia nurses knee injury

Top of the pops and finals bound. But not before star guard Kia Nurse sent an injury scare through the Canberra Capitals camp.

A 43-point thrashing means the Capitals will end their eight-year WNBL play-offs drought as they go into the New Year on top of the ladder.

Kia Nurse sent an injury scare through the Capitals camp after landing awkwardly on her knee.

Kia Nurse sent an injury scare through the Capitals camp after landing awkwardly on her knee.Credit:Mick Connolly

For the second consecutive game it was Nurse who did the damage in the 86-43 thrashing of the Dandenong Rangers at Dandenong Stadium on Sunday.

She starred with 26 points, with Capitals coach Paul Goriss saying Nurse's simple and assertive approach was paying dividends in the second half of the season.


But she finished the game on the bench with ice on her knee after she landed awkwardly in the final quarter.

The Capitals will monitor her this week, although she said she was fine after the game.

"It's good, it's attached and that's all you need," a smiling Nurse said.

"I've got good knees so I don't understand. I'm structurally sound on my knees, I focus heavily on them and it's attached so that's all that matters."

Their fifth consecutive win means the Capitals will finish 2018 on top of the ladder, although they're level with the Melbourne Boomers on 12 wins and five losses, but holding the split over the second-placed side.

It also means with just four games remaining in the regular season they're guaranteed of playing finals again for the first time since 2011.

Nurse was again dominant from the start, adding to the 33 points she scored in Friday night's win over Townsville.

"We had a chat about keeping things more simple – when she's open shoot the ball, when she's not try to find other teammates," Goriss said.

"The last couple of weeks she's done a better job of just keeping things simple."

A seven-point, quarter-time lead became a 21-point, half-time one and the game was essentially over.

Especially after the Capitals went on a 14-point scoring streak in the third to lead 68-30 going into the final term.

While it had been Nurse in the first half, it was Leilani Mitchell (20 points) in the second.

She hit five from seven from beyond the three-point arc, to complement Nurse's six from nine attempts.

Plantar fasciitis restricted Mitchell at the start of the WNBL season, but she's hitting her straps in the run to the finals.

"That always going to be the case with her coming off the plantar fasciitis and not playing for a period of time, she was always going to be behind," Goriss said.

"But now she's able to string a lot longer at practice than what she was. She's practicing more, she gets to play more and has fitted seamlessly into the team."

The Capitals will play the Bendigo Spirit at the AIS on Friday night.

CANBERRA CAPITALS 86 (Kia Nurse 26 points, Leilani Mitchell 20; Lauren Scherf 11 rebounds, Kelsey Griffin 9) bt DANDENONG RANGERS 43 (Betnijah Laney 9 points & 11 rebounds) at Dandenong Stadium.

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.

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