OPALS DOWN NZ TO REACH 2018 COMM GAMES GOLD MEDAL PLAYOFF

OPALS DOWN NZ TO REACH 2018 COMM GAMES GOLD MEDAL PLAYOFF

The Australian Opals have dealt with their Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in the Semi-Final of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, winning 109-50 to book a spot in the gold medal playoff against England.

The front court combination of Liz Cambage and Cayla George set the tone for the Opals with their presence inside proving too much for New Zealand to handle but with those two taking all the attention, Australia was able to get their outside game going.

Seven players knocked down three-pointers, shooting a very impressive 15-25 (60%) overall as they pulled away from the Tall Ferns with ease and for the fourth consecutive game, every play hit the scoreboard and the Opals surpassed the century mark.

They also tallied 30 assists on their 41 field goals with 11 Aussies notching dimes to exemplify their team performance.

George, showing off in front of New Zealand head coach and her future WNBL coach, rained down 4-4 shooting from beyond the arc for a tournament-high 18 points.

Steph Blicavs (nine points on 3-4 from long range) and Tessa Lavey (ten points, three assists, three steals) were also on fire from deep while Katie Ebzery and Belinda Snell continued their hot-shooting with 12 points and seven assists combined.

Liz Cambage did not need to step outside to lead the Opals in scoring though, tallying 21 points and six rebounds on 9-13 shooting.

She once again kick-started Australia's game with the first basket inside 11 seconds before scoring the Opals first five points as she went up against former Melbourne Boomer team mate, Kalani Purcell.

Jenna O'Hea (seven point, six assists) then joined in on the act, going on a quick 5-0 run herself to give Australia a double-digit lead.

While Cambage soon sat, the Tall Ferns still struggled to keep their opposition out of the paint with Kelsey Griffin and Ezi Magbegor (four points, three rebounds) taking over the reins with Magbegor also recording a massive block on Micaela Cocks.

Leading by 25 points at half-time, the Opals made their intentions known early in the third quarter as Magbegor banked in a jumper before Lavey cut off the inbounds pass to gift Magbegor four points in the space of five seconds.

New Zealand's offence continued to crumble as Griffin (11 points, seven rebounds, four assists) took advantage at both ends and a 30-6 third term truly put the game to rest.

Nicole Seekamp (four points, two assists) was then able to hit the court late, showing off her talents with a couple of nice reverse lay-ups to ensure every Opal hit the scoreboard.

Find the box score here.

The Opals will now meet England for the 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal at 8.30pm AEST on Saturday night, a team they have already beaten comfortably in the pool stage by 63 points when they scored a tournament-best 118 points.

Australian Boomers and Opals Schedule at the 2018 Commonwealth Games (all times AEST):

April 14 Semi-Final: Boomers vs. Scotland at 10am
April 14 Gold Medal: Opals vs. England at 8.30pm
April 15: Boomers Bronze (9.00am) and Gold Medal (12.30pm) Games

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