OPALS PREVAIL OVER CANADA AT GOLD COAST COMMONWEALTH GAMES

OPALS PREVAIL OVER CANADA AT GOLD COAST COMMONWEALTH GAMES

The Australian Opals have used a dominant first half to defeat Canada 100-61 in their second clash of the group stage at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

The Opals jumped out of the blocks with the first ten points of the game and never trailed although Canada did fight back to take the third quarter while they also out-rebounded the Aussies.

Both will be areas of focus for coach Sandy Brondello heading into the rest of the tournament but with every player hitting the scoreboard, combining to shoot 58% from the field and cracking the century mark again (via an Alice Kunek buzzer-beater), the Aussies will be pleased with the performance overall.

Jenna O'Hea (seven points, three assists) set the tone for the Opals, despite almost not playing with a sore back, scoring four quick points while Liz Cambage controlled the paint against Adelaide Lightning centre Ruth Hamblin to help the Aussies to a 10-0 opening run.

Steph Talbot had an impact all over the floor, tallying five points, four rebounds and an assist to quarter-time while a Tessa Lavey buzzer-beater gave the Aussies a 21-point lead at the first break as they held Canada to 15% shooting.

Cambage (23 points on 9-11 shooting) soon moved into double-digits on a three-point play and with a healthy lead, coach Brondello was able to rotate through her entire roster with Kunek (six points) and Katie Ebzery (five points, three assists, two steals) making it ten players on the scoreboard before half-time.

Canada moved into a zone late in the half and it helped reduce the damage but a 15-4 edge in points off turnovers helped Australia open up a 30-point advantage.

Talbot (14 points, five boards, three assists) then knocked down an incredible no-look lay-up over her shoulder to start proceedings in the third term but the intensity was not quite at the level of the first half and Canada were able to sneak in for a few offensive rebounds while they also started to get their offensive transition going.

They put together an 18-7 run to win the third period and it was left to debutante Nicole Seekamp (five points) and Kelsey Griffin (nine points, five steals) to realign the Opals as they brought the defensive intensity back to the team.

Seekamp was also able to get out in transition for an easy lay-up to ensure every Aussie had hit the scoreboard for the second game in a row while Steph Blicavs (ten points) enjoyed some strong minutes down the stretch as well.

Find the box score here.

Just one group stage game remains for the Boomers and Opals now before the competition switches from Townsville and Cairns to the Gold Coast for the finals.

Tomorrow night will see a double-header to conclude the group stage with the Opals taking on England at 5.30pm AEST before the Boomers host Nigeria at 9pm AEST.

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

April 9: Opals vs. England at 5.30pm
April 9: Boomers vs. Nigeria at 9.00pm
April 13: Opals Semi-Finals at 6.30pm or 9.00pm
April 14: Boomers Semi-Finals at 10am or 12.30pm
April 14: Opals Bronze (6.00pm) and Gold Medal (8.30pm) Games
April 15: Boomers Bronze (9.00am) and Gold Medal (12.30pm) Games

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