Capital Swish were crowned Women’s Basketball Championship (WBC) Division 2 champions after defeating Wellington 80-69 at AUT Sports Centre on Thursday night.
Wellington Head Coach Nixon Penese admitted his team were caught off-guard when the two teams met a couple of weeks ago in the regular season and Capital ran out comfortable winners 82-56.
Promising a much better showing Penese would have been reasonably content at half-time with his team trailing by just three points (37-34).
Sariah Penese, returning to the University of Maryland Baltimore County for her sophmore year on Monday, led the Wellington scoring at the break with 9 points.
Morgan Ili, on her way to a game high 27 points, and Fijian international Letava Whippy (14 points and 11 rebounds) were both in double figures for Capital at the interval.
Capital began to assert their authority early in the second half stretching the lead to double figures as Arielle Parai scored half a dozen quick points.
The outstanding Leah Mafua (13 points and 9 rebounds), soon to be heading to Washington State University, and Renee Savai’inaea led a comeback – Wellington trailing 58-52 at the three-quarter mark.
Grace Hunter and Grace Vaofusi pushed the tempo in the early stages of the final quarter but with Aliyah Dunn and Whippy controlling the boards Capital were able to regain a double-digit lead.
Pressure defence from Wellington paid minor dividends but Ili and Maia Watene combined for 16 fourth quarter points to seal a deserved Capital victory.
Capital Swish 80 – Morgan Ili 27/5a, Arielle Parai 16/9r, Letava Whippy 14/11r, Maia Watene 12, Aliyah Dunn 11/13r
Wellington 69 –Leah Mafua 16/10r, Sariah Penese 15, Grace Hunter 10, Grace Vaofusi 10
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