The Seven Consulting Opals countered Mali’s spritely play early to gain their first win of their home tournament.
Australia found some much-needed confidence with a convincing 60-point win over Mali in the final game of the day at the Sydney SuperDome.
A consistent Ezi Magbegor ticked over the scoreboard with 15 points, as seven of her Australian teammates also reached double figures. Mali was led by Djeneba N’Diaye with 15 points and four steals.
Australia came out with a change up with Steph Talbot taking on point guard duties in the backcourt, but it was Mali that jumped them early in the first few minutes. It took Lauren Jackson (8 points and four rebounds in eight minutes) to enter the floor and change the complexion of the contest.
Australia, who to that point had looked tentative in the first quarter, started to get the ball rolling through offence and saw plenty of their bench impact to give them a lead of 22-56 at halftime.
Mali fought hard to keep with Australia, but the Seven Consulting Opals continued to extend the margin between them finishing with all 12 players scoring and sealing the match 58-118.
Marianna Tolo was happy with the way the Australian team shook off yesterday’s loss.
“It was clear we got off to a slow start at the beginning but once we got past those post game one jitters, we hit our strides,” Tolo said. “Defensively, we stepped up a whole other level, put some pressure on them, didn’t let them do what they wanted to do and we followed the scout and that was the difference in the game.”
Relieved with the win, Australian coach Sandy Brondello felt the game was the exact hit-out her team needed.
“It was great hit-out for us,” Brondello said. “Coming off a tough loss last night we were disappointed in our performance, but I thought we came with the appropriate toughness and a little bit more poise tonight.”
“It was nice to see the ball going in the hole and I thought we had good contributions from a lot of players.
“We’ve got a tough three-game stretch coming up, starting with Serbia, but we are excited about that and you want to play the really good teams.”
After such a spritely start, Mali coach Joaquin Brizuela was sad that his team couldn’t keep pace with the Australians.
“I’m sad,” Brizuela said. “The score was too big and we lost by too many points.”
“Australia was great and we know that they are a good team. They shot really well and their three-point percentage was incredible.”
With a rest day for Group B in the group phase tomorrow – sterner tests await all sides in the matchups ahead on Sunday.
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