Melbourne Boomers WNBA import Sophie Cunningham has avoided suspension and is free to play in her club's semi-final decider on Wednesday night.
Cunningham was cited for making contact to the face of Canberra forward Keely Froling with an open hand during Melbourne's game two win over the Capitals at the State Basketball Centre on Sunday. It was her second clash with a Capitals player this season.
Despite video that showed Cunningham making contact with Froling's face, the WNBL incident review panel graded the incident as "careless, low impact and high contact" which led to a $500 fine reduced to $250 with an early guilty plea.
The panel did not believe Cunningham intended to make contact with Froling as she was looking in another direction. If the ruling had been intentional, it would have likely led to a suspension.
Canberra was understood to be furious about the incident given Froling has only just recovered from a broken nose suffered against the Boomers in the same round 14 game where Cunningham was cited for unduly rough play, body contact, after flooring Capitals guard Maddison Rocci.
That penalty from that incident was cut from a one-game ban to a $500 fine after Cunningham also took an early plea.
The finding will lead to a fiery reception for the Missouri-raised forward as her club attempts to beat the reigning champions in Canberra and set-up an All-Melbourne grand final series with the Southside Flyers, who are already through to the grand final.
The Capitals are understood to be without teenage forward Gemma Potter who continues to recover from an ankle injury.
They will start as slight favourites after beating the Boomers in Canberra twice this season including in game one although their round 14 game was decided in overtime.
The Flyers will host the winners of Wednesday night's decider in game one of the grand final series at Dandenong Stadium on Sunday at 5pm.
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