The win places Australia third in their group on points differential, and even if the team loses its final Preliminary Round game tonight, they can now only finish as low fourth with the top four in each group advancing to the Quarter Finals.
Australian head coach Peter Lonergan said the team had played to plan against Mali.
“I was not happy with our first half performance, but executed quite well in the second,” Lonergan said. “We have strong bodies and we must make the most of what we have.”
The Australians used their height inside to more than double the rebound count of Mali, 50-18, and to have five players reach double figures in scoring, led by Tayla Roberts with 17 points on flawless shooting from the field, converting 7-of-7 attempts. Gretel Tippett had 16 points, Sara Blicavs added 14, Alex Bunton chipped in with 13 points and Olivia Thompson posted 10 points to go with 11 rebounds for a double-double.
Marian Maiga led Mali with 16 points but was the only player on her team to score more than five points.
The Australians’ defence was phenomenal, forcing Mali to put up half of their shots from well outside the arc.
Mali scored first but it did not take the Australians long to kick into gear, racing away to take a 10-point lead at the first break 17-7.
Roberts tallied ten points in the opening four minutes of the second quarter to put the lead out to 15 points, but Maiga was keeping Mali in touch. A 13-2 run to close out the opening half had the Australians leading by 25 points at the long break, 46-21.
The Mali team scored only one basket in the third term, a Maiga trey, as the Australians went on a scoring rampage to lead by 46 points at the final break, 70-24.
Australia extended their lead by three points in the final term to secure victory by 49 points.
In other games overnight in Toulouse Belgium upset China 90-80 and Spain trounced Argentina 68-38. In Group A action in Rodez Russia conquered Canada 76-61, the United States topped Turkey 84-55, and host nation France narrowly beat Japan 70-67.
The Australians play Belgium at 11.00pm AEST tonight; Belgium is currently atop the ladder for Group B, China is in second place. Play-by-play will be available thanks to FIBA Live Stats for the group matches at france2010.fiba.com.
Quarter by quarter:
1: AUS 17 MLI 7
H: AUS 46 MLI 21 (29-14)
3: AUS 70 MLI 24 (24-3)
F: AUS 88 MLI 39 (18-15)
AUSTRALIA 88 (T Roberts 17, G Tippett 16, S Blicavs 14) def
MALI 39 (M Maiga 16, S Konate 5, F Guindo 5)
In Toulouse, France
Australian U17 Women World Championship Schedule
Friday July 16: Australia 58 def Spain 57
Saturday July 17: China 92 def Australia 75
Sunday July 18: Australia 77 def Argentina 57
Tuesday July 20: Australia 88 def Mali 39
Wednesday July 21: Australia v Belgium 15:00 (11pm AEST)
Friday July 23: Quarter Finals
Saturday July 24: Semi Finals
Sunday July 25: Finals
FIBAtv.com will be streaming every match live from the Quarter Finals onwards, from 23 July.