The host nation takes down Japan in their fourth straight victory at the World Cup
The Seven Consulting Opals took advantage of their size inside and held Japan to just 20 points in the second half to take the 71-54 victory at the Sydney SuperDome.
Sami Whitcomb stepped up for the Australians to finish with 15 points, three assists and two steals while Marianna Tolo led the way from the inside to secure 14 points, six rebounds and two assists.
From Japan, Monica Okoye had 14 points and three rebounds.
A lot was riding on this game for Australia, as a win would claim the top spot in the group, but a loss potentially meaning a match-up with USA or China, who have been dominant in Group A.
The Olympic silver medallists Japan were playing for pride.
In the first half, Australia looked to find their posts inside and scored almost half of their points in the paint (16 points). Darcee Garbin provided a spark off the bench with five points, and the team capitalised on Japan’s turnovers to convert 12 crucial points.
Australia took good care of the ball themselves and only turned the ball over four times in the opening half.
Japan kept the game close by getting to the free throw line and converting nine for nine from the charity stripe while they kept up with Australia’s rebounding.
However, in the second half, Japan’s rebounding woes of the tournament continued, and Australia’s size advantage started to show as they outrebounded Japan by 10 (15-5) and had seven offensive boards.
Australia started the second half with a 7-0 run (43-34) and they kept building on that lead with the extra chances they got from rebounding. They won the third quarter 20-9, going into the final term with a 56-43 lead.
Japan never came any closer and Australia controlled the game the rest of the way. The Japanese guards tried to put pressure on Australia’s ballhandlers and forced a couple of turnovers but it wasn’t enough to keep up with Australia, who kept getting extra chances from their offensive rebounding.
Australia’s defence was once again impressive, holding Japan to only 28% shooting from the floor and only 20 points in the second half.
On another positive note for Australia, post player Cayla George got going with nine points and nine rebounds, playing an important part in the run late in the third quarter.
The Seven Consulting Opals’ Head Coach Sandy Brondello was proud of her team’s efforts during their fourth consecutive win of the tournament.
“We obviously accomplished their goal of winning tonight and finishing top of the group, and that’s what we wanted to do at the start of the tournament,” Brondello said.
“We had a little hiccup in the beginning, but really proud of our persistence to hang in there and continue to stay together and play tough at both ends of the floor.”
Australian guard Whitcomb said the win took toughness to lock down the win after a tough schedule so far.
“It was physical as all the games have been in this pool, so really proud of our effort,” said Whitcomb.
“It’s really tough to get to this final game where you’ve exerted all of your energy up to this point and then back up again, so I was really proud of the effort of the group.”
“It’s really special, they (the crowd) have been such a massive boost for us. I think particularly after that first game, just in momentum swings, and we’re feeling good and playing well.
We are excited about showcasing what we’re about and what women’s basketball is about.”
|Team 1||Team 2|