The Jayco Australian Opals have registered their second straight win against Brazil in the Farewell Series from Bendigo Stadium on Tuesday night, outclassing the visitors for two and a half quarters before a late fight-back from the Brazilians seeing the Aussies hang on to an 80-73 win.
For the Jayco Opals, Lauren Jackson finished with 15 points in just 17 minutes of floor time, while Belinda Snell also registered 15 points.
For Brazil, Damiris Do Amaral led all scorers with 16 points, while Karla Da Costa added 14 points for the contest.
The first quarter was a genuine tussle with the Brazilians eager to make amends for their game-one fade-out on Sunday. Lauren Jackson was equally keen to get off to a good start herself, following her absence in game one due to a hamstring complaint. She did just that, racking up five first-quarter points quickly.
Brazil stayed with the Jayco Opals for the full term, the scores all tied up at the first break.
The second started the way the first ended — both teams wrestling for the advantage. It was the Jayco Opals who, like in the first game, upped the intensity on defense and started to push the ball out into the open floor, finding scorers under the basket and on the perimeter.
They held Brazil to just 14 points, dropping 25 of their own — a three-point bomb right on the half-time buzzer by Belinda Snell giving the Aussies an 11-point lead heading into the change rooms.
Another dominant term by the Aussie bigs in the third saw them extend their lead to 19 points going into the last and looking to cruise to another big victory.
Leading by as many as 22 in the final term, the full Jayco Opals bench hit the floor in the fourth, and the Brazilians rallied, going on a 10-0 scoring run to claw their way back into the game.
With just over a minute to play, the Brazilians managed to get the game back to single digits, prompting Carrie Graf to call a time-out.
The Aussies steadied and closed out the win, with the series now moving to the State Basketball Centre in Knox for the third and final clash, and the final match-up for the Jayco Opals on Aussie soil before they depart for Europe.
Following the game, head coach Carrie Graf paid tribute to her floor general Kristi Harrower, who played her 200th game for the Jayco Opals, and had the rare opportunity to do so in front of her home-town crowd.
“Any player that gets to play four Olympics in any sport is huge,” said Graf.
“Her career span… for her size too, she’s tiny and finds a way at this level to be a wonderful player. Her on-court leadership is superior than most and she’s an integral part of this campaign,” she said.
Jayco Australian Opals 80 (Jackson 15, Snell 15) defeated Brazil 73 (Do Amaral 16, Da Costa 14)