Opals outclass USA

Opals outclass USA

The Australian Defence Force Opals have upset the United States at the ‘Good Luck Beijing 2008’ tournament in Beijing, downing the world’s number 1 ranked team by fourteen points, 74-60.[BOX SCORE] Both teams were missing key players, so the win speaks

The Australian Defence Force Opals have upset the United States at the ‘Good Luck Beijing 2008’ tournament in Beijing, downing the world’s number 1 ranked team by fourteen points, 74-60.[BOX SCORE]

Both teams were missing key players, so the win speaks volumes for the depth of World Champion Australia.

Trailing by two points with one quarter to play, the Opals restricted the potent Americans to ten points in the final stanza while registering 26 of their own to run away with the victory.

Beijing hopeful Rohanee Cox led Australia with 16 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists and received good support from World Champion Opals Hollie Grima (13 points, 8 rebounds) and Erin Phillips (12 points, 8 rebounds).

Three-time Olympic Gold Medallist Lisa Leslie top scored for the United States with 17 points.

“It’s a terrific way to start the tournament,” ADF head coach Jan Stirling said.

“Any win against the USA is good for us.

“We locked them down in the fourth quarter and played fantastic defence and we dug in and got the win.

“But what I told our players after the game is that if we lose to China tomorrow this win doesn’t count for anything. We have to back it up.”

Australia’s youngest player, 19-year old Abby Bishop, missed the game with a corked thigh she sustained during a training session this morning.

“Obviously the result was not what we wanted in terms of a win,” said USA head coach Anne Donovan. “But I was pleased with several things I saw out there today. Number one, it’s good to have Lisa Leslie back on the court for us again.

“It hurts us to lose this game against Australia, but we know we’re going to continue to improve and get better as the tournament goes on.”

In a game that featured seven knotted scores and 13 lead changes, the play was evenly matched through much of the contest. In fact, neither team held more than a six-point lead through the first 33 minutes of action.

The Americans led 33-29 at halftime and held a 50-48 edge heading into the fourth quarter. At 9:19 Sylvia Fowles (Chicago Sky), who got into foul trouble early in the game and sat out most of the first three periods, took a pass inside from Leslie to give the USA its final lead of the game, 52-51.

Australia regained the lead, this time for good, 17 seconds later on a Suzy Batkovic bucket that spurred a 13-3 Australian run. Batkovic bookended the run with a three at 6:28 that put the Opals in front 64-55. Leslie and Fowles contributed a basket each to pull the USA to within six points, 64-59 with five minutes on the clock, but that was as close as the red, white and blue would get to Australia.

The USA struggled with its outside shooting, making just 2-of-19 from beyond the arc and closed the night making 36.5 percent (23-63 FGs) overall. Australia outrebounded the U.S. 39-34, had 13 steals and scored 11 points off the USA’s 17 turnovers; while the USA was unable to capitalize on Australia’s errors, receiving just two points on 13 Opal turnovers.

Australia will face host nation China at 10:00pm (Australian Eastern) on Sunday night.AUSTRALIA 74 – R Cox 16, H Grima 13, E Phillips 12 defUNITED STATES 60 – L Leslie 17, K Smith 14, S Fowles 9at Beijing Olympic Basketball Stadium, CHINA