The World Champion defencejobs Opals maintained an unblemished record in the 29th William Jones Cup last night with a polished, yet hard earned 72-40 win over the United States Athletes in Action team.
With Coach Jan Stirling maintaining her regime of rotating all 10 players across an even spread of minutes, it was the trademark of the Opals, team defence, that paved the way for the team's second win in as many days.
Despite missing World Championship guard Jenni Screen for this encounter, the Australians were able to maintain constant pressure on the talented Americans, holding them to single digit scoring outputs in two quarters.
“The Opals have always been renowned as a hard nose, defensive team and this group of players understands the importance of maintaining that in each and every game,” Stirling said.
“To hold a team with the talent of the Athletes in Action to 40 points is credit to the work rate and intensity of the girls and really sets the tone for the important clash with New Zealand tomorrow.”
Townsville Fire forward Rohanee Cox scored a game high 13 points to go with 6 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists while hard working off-guard Deanna Smith contributed 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in support.
Laura Summerton contributed 11 points and Sydney Uni Flames star Natalie Porter scored 10 points.
With Smith and Cox setting the tone on the perimeter and Porter providing a constant target in the paint, the Opals simply had too many options and too much depth for the Athletes in Action, leading 34-17 at halftime.
Athens Olympian Alicia Poto, who pulled in a game high 8 rebounds, relished her role as court captain for the day, quarterbacking the team in fine style and combining with Sam Richards to get the better of a talented American guard rotation.
The Australians now turn their focus to their rivals from "across the ditch", with the young Tall Ferns set to provide a challenge for the 2-0 Opals.
With Christchurch Sirens head coach Leigh Gooding at the helm, the young Tall Ferns recorded a hard fought 51-50 win over Chinese Taipei tonight and will provide a different look for the Opals with their size and organisation.
The Trans-Tasman rivalry will continue when the two teams from FIBA Oceania zone clash at 7:30pm AEST tonight.
Australia 72 (Cox 13, Smith 12, Summerton 12, Porter 10) defUSA Athletes in Action 40 (January 10, McFarland 9).