Australian Opals conquer rival USA

Australian Opals conquer rival USA

The Jayco Australian Opals have overpowered the United States, 87-72, in a 'friendly' scrimmage in Connecticut, USA overnight.

The Jayco Opals were without star Lauren Jackson who is still recovering from a concussion suffered in a WNBA game on July 3.

Despite the absence of Jackson, the Australians were able to pull off the victory, a result they have not been able to achieve against the USA in official tournaments in recent years.

With both teams ensconced in training camps this week, and the USA playing against a WNBA All-Star team the previous night, both coaches ran out their full squads, 15 players per team, in the encounter.

Victorian Jenna O’Hea continued her standout form on tour, top-scoring against the USA overnight with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. The 2009/10 WNBL All-Star added four rebounds and two assists. Belinda Snell was in support with 13 points, four assists and three rebounds.

Abby Bishop showed that she has made some improvements to her game since joining the WNBA and playing against the USA’s best on a regular basis; she finished with 11 points, five rebounds and two steals.

The day after scoring 12 points in the USA v WNBA game, Australian forward Penny Taylor put up 10 points and grabbed two rebounds for the Opals in her first appearance for the team since 2008. Taylor’s Phoenix Mercury teammate and 2009 WNBA MVP Diana Taurasi led the USA with 11 points.

It was a great learning opportunity for some of Australia’s younger players, including 203cm centre Liz Cambage, to experience playing against the USA senior national team for the first time. Cambage finished the game with eight points, two rebounds and a steal.

The Australians made a slow start but managed to hang with the USA in the first half, facing just a two-point deficit at halftime, 43-41.

But out-rebounding the USA 40-27 allowed the Aussies to pull ahead in the second half and take the win.

The Jayco Opals depart for the final leg of their tour on Tuesday, when they will fly to Hungary for a four nation tournament.

[Box Score]

Quarter by quarter:

1: USA 23 AUS 22
H: USA 43 AUS 41     (20-19)
3: AUS 63 USA 59     (22-16)
F: AUS 87 USA 72     (24-13)

AUSTRALIA 87 (J O’Hea 20, B Snell 13, A Bishop 11) def
USA 72 (D Taurasi 11, C Dupree 10, M Moore 8)
At Uncasville, Connecticut