Women's Uni Games team beats Sweden

Women's Uni Games team beats Sweden

The Australian Women’s University basketball team has tipped off their Summer Universiade (World University Games) campaign with a big 13-point win over Sweden, 71-58 over night.

For the Aussies, Abby Bishop and Elyse Penaluna both top-scored with 14 points each, while Cayla Francis added 12 points.

Australia took control of the game early in the contest, jumping out to an early 13-3 lead, but the Swedes rallied and fought back to tie the game up at 15-15 at the end of the first quarter.

It was the Swedish side that started the second term stronger, jumping out to a quick four-point lead thanks to the work of Kalis Lloyd and Danielle Hamilton-Carter.

But the Aussies quickly returned fire, and rallied behind the likes of Bishop, Penaluna and Madgen. The Aussies took a handy 10-point lead into half time.

Hard work from the Swedes after half time saw them claw their way back to within four points thanks to the scoring output of Elderbrink and Halvarsson. But Australia steadied again, this time Cayla Francis was doing much of the work on offense to push the lead back out to 16 points with a quarter to go.

With Penaluna striking early in the fourth, the lead was out to 20 points, as Australia seemed to be sailing towards a first-up win.

The Swedes kept playing hard, but couldn’t draw any closer than the 13 point deficit that became the winning margin for the Aussies.

“Being the first game, you’re always going in a little blind so that was always the challenge for us, to get that first win,” said head coach Phil Brown.

“Our bigs really did well. I think that they defended well, and really limited the two or three big girls that Sweden had.

“They worked hard on the boards and provided some inside targets on the offensive end, so that was really positive to have that rotation going with those three or four bigs – Cayla [Francis] particularly in the second half, she really stepped up and gave us an injection at both ends of the floor,” he said.   

Now considered to be the premier international basketball tournament behind the Olympics and World Championship, the Australian women’s team, boasting six current Jayco Australian Opals players – Bishop, Tolo, Penaluna, Francis, Cumming, Madgen and Hunt – are looking for great success at this tournament and head coach Phil Brown is certainly well aware of what this talented group is capable of achieving.  

“I think everyone is positive. We’ve limited our preparation to one practise game against Brazil and we’ve focused on maximising our own practise time on the floor to work on certain things, so I think that will pay off, if we can build on our win tonight moving into our game with Japan tomorrow and then on to the Czechs,” he said.

“We feel like we’re on track and clearly there are still some things to improve but in terms of our confidence and the way we’re going about it, I think we’re doing a lot of good things.

“But our overall objective is to do the work to put ourselves in a position to win the whole thing, and to do that, we need to win these first three games and then get through to a quarter final,” he said. 

Australian University Women 71 (Bishop 14, Penaluna 14) def Sweden 58 (Eldebrink (F) 12, Eldebrink (E) 11) 

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