Opals bounce back with booming win
THE Australian Opals have recovered from Thursday’s disappointing loss by taking down Mali in convincing fashion on Friday night at the Sydney Superdome, with the final score sitting at 118-58.
The path to winning the 2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup became a lot trickier for the Opals after their loss to France on the opening night, with four wins from five games required now. That quest got off to a perfect start last night, proving far too good for Mali and outperforming the opposition in all four quarters.
The Aussies got off to an ideal start in the opening term, bursting out of the blocks with some quick ball movement and multiple contributors. They outscored Mali 23-12 in the first period and only took off from there.
Australia’s offence looked as strong as it had been in years, scoring at least 30 points in the second and third quarters. The Opals shot over 50 percent both inside and outside the defence as they exposed the brave but inexperienced Mali side.
The Aussies won every key statistical category except for steals, and dominated the game from start to finish. It was a statement win from the host side, who looked a bit lost against France. If the Opals can continue to gel on the court, they may just turn things around after a poor start.
In a terrific balance of scorers, the Aussies had seven players registering 11 or more points. Eziyoda Magbegor was at the top of the list with 15 points, getting to work in the paint and punishing Mali inside. Sara Blicavs, Darcee Garbin and Cayla George had 14 points each, while Tess Madgen (13 points), Marianna Tolo (12 points) and Sami Whitcomb (11 points) rounded out the top scorers for the Opals.
Djenba N’Diaye performed admirably in defeat for Mali, finishing with an equal game-high 15 points, thanks to four buckets from behind the arc. She was the main offender for Mali and can hold her head high.
In the evening’s other contest, Canada continued its strong start to the tournament with an impressive 14-point triumph over France.