PAGE TURNS AS GB WOMEN DOWN GERMANS

Great Britain’s women produced a gritty display in Wolfenbuttel to pick up their first victory of the Eurobasket qualifying campaign, defeating Germany 72-63.

Tom Maher watched his women shake off another poor shooting night to hold their nerve, with Julie Page hitting 20 points and adding 5 rebounds as GB opened their account.

“Obviously we kept them to 63 points, doing this you expect to win” said the Australian. “We had a really good start and down the stretch, even though we couldn’t make any foul shots, we didn’t toss the ball away.”

Maher’s side produced a blistering start with an early 11-2 run propelling the visitors into a quick 13-point cushion before Germany cut the gap to 23-13 at the end of the first period.

And although Britain’s shooting struggles grew, Kim Butler converted from long-range as GB led 32-20 midway through the second.  Germany, however, began to find their range and an 11-1 burst put their rivals under the cosh before Jo Leedham lifted the pressure with a three-pointer, Chantelle Handy hitting a late jumper as her side grabbed a 38-31 cushion at half-time.

The hosts continued to make their runs but met with resistance. Page scored off a fast break to push the guests lead to 47-39 but then they sustained a blow when Butler fouled out. The Germans took heart and cut the gap to 5 but Page ensured the advantage stood at 52-44 with ten minutes left.

GB’s Australian-born guard Natalie Stafford (right) hit 4 of her 16 points in a quick spell as Maher urged his side to impose themselves but it was Page who stood up. She hit 5 of the visitors’ points in a row and when Janeya Wade-Fray added a pair of foul shot, Britain’s cushion stood at an imposing 62-48 with 5.09 remaining.

Would there be one final German offensive surge? Linda Frohlich – who hit a game-high 24 – brought the hosts within 8 but Leedham emerged from her slump with a timely jumper. It effectively ended the German hopes and Stafford applying the finishing touch with a three.

“We bounced back after the tough loss at home,” Page said. “Today, we played more like a team and were patient enough. It was important to stay mentally focused after the first game. It is always tough to start with a loss at home and then travel. We are very happy that we won the game against a very competitive German team.”

With the Slovakia hammering Ukraine 82-53, GB are now joint second in Group B, holding a 1-1 record that sees them level with Germany.

GB host the Ukrainians on Friday night in Guildford.

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