ADELAIDE Lightning’s WNBL finals hopes are hanging by a thread following a heartbreaking one-point defeat to University of Canberra Capitals.
A gutsy fightback after a sluggish start drew the Lightning level with 30 seconds remaining at the National Convention Centre on Sunday.
But Jordan’s Hooper’s free throw at the death consigned Adelaide to an 88-87 loss and left it two wins adrift of the top four with three minor round games to play.
Lightning assistant coach Jason Chainey praised the character of his side despite its playoff chances taking a major blow.
“Everyone is really disappointed because it’s a double-whammy for us,” Chainey said.
“Not only is it a one-point loss, but that probably makes it a 95 per cent certainty that we’re now out of the finals.
“It’s testament to the girls character that we didn’t play great basketball, but somehow we find a way to stay in games.
“But we lose the game by a point and that’s it for the season I suppose.”
Adelaide trailed by 10 at the first break and eight at half-time, before storming back to take the lead for the first time late in the third quarter.
The visitors got out to a five-point advantage in a seesawing final period after Sarah Elsworthy’s lay-up.
But Vanessa Panousis’ late foul handed seventh-placed Canberra the opportunity to secure victory. Aimee Clydesdale, Colleen Planeta (both 18 points) and Abby Bishop (16) impressed for the Lightning, ahead of Thursday night’s must-win home clash with Melbourne Boomers.
“Irrespective of if we don’t make the finals, we’ve shown in the last few weeks we have the ability to play with any team,” Chainey said.
“It doesn’t matter who we play now, we want to win and show that we’re a good team.”