<
>

Canberra Capitals smash Lynx in WNBL semi

The University of Canberra Capitals have opened their WNBL best-of-three semi-final series with an emphatic 95-76 win over Perth Lynx.

Canberra's key players rose to the occasion at a packed AIS Arena on Friday night as they piled on 34 points in the third quarter to take control of the contest.

Kia Nurse scored 31 points for the Capitals with Leilani Mitchell adding 24 while Opals forward Kelsey Griffin showed off her all-court game with 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.

"They were amazing ... they are world-class players," Griffin told Fox Sports following stellar performances from Nurse and Mitchell.

"They've both done it on the international stage, in the WNBA and in Australia - Kia is really making a name for herself in the league in her first year out here."

The home side dominated the opening quarter but Perth fought back to take a 43-38 lead at halftime.

But Nurse exploded for 17 points in the third quarter, including four triples, as the Capitals built a 72-56 advantage on the way to claiming a 1-0 lead in the series.

Perth won two of the three games against Canberra during the regular season but apart from a spirited second quarter, struggled to keep pace with Canberra despite a 25-point haul from Brittany McPhee.

"We just let ourselves down in that third quarter," Perth guard Katie Ebzery said.

"It's been a little bit of a trend and that's something that we will look at, work on and hopefully be better at in the second game."

With Griffin and Nurse firing, Canberra raced ahead by double digits in the opening minutes on their way to a 28-16 first quarter lead with Perth missing all nine attempts from long range.

McPhee played a lone hand for the Lynx on offence with 10 first-quarter points but Alison Schwagmeyer and Kayla Steindl stepped up in the second to narrow the margin.

The Capitals stemmed the tide approaching halftime but a long triple from Steindl helped the visitors take a five-point lead at the main break.

But the third quarter belonged to Canberra with Mitchell sparking the revival and Nurse's long-range shooting swinging the match as they reeled off 17 unanswered points.

Perth tried valiantly in the fourth quarter but Mitchell put the finishing touches on the win as she finished with six three-pointers on the night.

Game two of the semi-final series will be held in Perth on Thursday night with a deciding third game scheduled for the following Sunday if needed.