Emerging Opals defeat New Zealand in China
Day 2 of the Four Nations Pre-Olympic Tournament in Suzhou, China saw the Aussies come away with another win against a physical and persistent New Zealand outfit.
Like yesterday's match against Angola, the Emerging Opals started again at a blistering pace to take the lead at the first quarter break 21-12. Again, the size of Cayla Francis bothered the smaller opposition posting four points for the quarter, and Katie-Rae Ebzery also chipped in with a handy four points.
The second quarter was much like the first, and the Aussies again persisted through the quarter to extend the lead at the half to 44-25. Natalie Taylor from New Zealand stepped up her game with some sharp shooting (9 points for the quarter), while Tess Madgen added some spark to finish with 8 points and Rachael Flanagan brought some experience and poise to end the quarter with 7 points.
The championship third quarter was one that the Aussies would like to forget. New Zealand came out of the blocks quick and physical, while the Aussies almost became content with the lead and did not match the aggression of the Kiwis. Taylor again punished the Aussies to chip in 14 points for the quarter, and Cocks backed her up with 10 points.
Fourth quarter saw New Zealand continue to up the intensity and the Emerging Opals brought back that true Aussie grit to pull away with an 8 point win at the final buzzer. A great performance by the group, particularly with being able to grind it out in the last quarter.
The Emerging Opals now face the home team and tournament heavy weights China in the final match in Suzhou. It will be a huge test for the group, but the team is extremely positive and ready for the challenge.
Emerging Opals 72 (Katie-Rae Ebzery 13pts, Cayla Francis 12pts & 8rebs, Tess Madgen 12pts & 8rebs, Casey Smauels 12pts) defeated New Zealand 64 (Natalie Taylor 16pts, Jillian Harmon 16pts & 10rebs, Micaela Cocks 12pts, Casey Lockwood 10pts)