The Australian women’s basketball team [media guide] has secured third place and a bronze medal at the ‘Good Luck Beijing 2008’ test event [official site] in China this afternoon with a four point victory over Cuba, 65-61. [Box score]
The Australian Defence Force Opals led by as many as 21 points in the first half but scores were level at 59-59 with ninety seconds to play before acting Captain Tully Bevilaqua scored six straight points to claim victory for Australia.
Emma Randall led Australia with 15 points and 9 rebounds while Hollie Grima added 9 points and six rebounds. Bevilaqua also had 5 rebounds and 5 steals.
Earlier in the tournament Australia defeated the United States but losses Cuba, China and New Zealand put it in the race for minor placings.
“Tonight the game was on the line and Tully played a major part in the end,” ADF Opals head coach Jan Stirling said.
“We were down two players and it was a real bump and grind affair in the second half but I always thought we’d hang on for the win and we did.
“Our aim was to defeat a team that had previously defeated us and we achieved that, so I’m reasonably happy.”
Natalie Porter rode the pine with a recurring blood blister on the sole of her foot alongside injured Suzy Batkovic so Emma Randall and Rohanee Cox stepped up in her absence to lead Australia from the front.
The ADF Opals broke open an 11-8 tug-of-war in the opening stanza with a 15-2 run that took them to the first break ahead by sixteen, 26-10.
The athletic Cuban side clamped down on the Aussies in the second period and the teams went basket for basket until Alicia Poto knocked down a buzzer beater to end the half with the ADF Opals ahead by nineteen, 44-25.
Cuba disrupted the Australians after the main break and the ADF Opals’ turnover count streaked into the teens.
With one period to play Australia still led by eight, 55-47, but their offence dried up almost entirely as Cuba put together a 12-4 run before Bevilaqua’s heroics.
In the playoff for fifth, the New Zealand Tall Ferns led at every break but a barrage of three-pointers enabled Korea to storm back and take victory, 70-67.
U.S.A. faces host nation China at 10pm Eastern tonight in the gold medal game.
Quarter by quarter:
1. AUS 26 CUB 10
H. AUS 44 CUB 25 (18-15)
3. AUS 55 CUB 47 (11-22)
F. AUS 65 CUB 61 (10-14)
AUSTRALIA 65 – Emma Randall 15, Tully Bevilaqua 13, Hollie Grima 9 bt
CUBA 61 – Y Soria Baro 17, S Avila Cazanas 12, Y Boulet Peillon 8
at Beijing Olympic Basketball Stadium, CHINA
Australia Bronze Medal