Great Britain’s women beat Canada 70-57 at Meadowbank on Saturday in the first home friendly of their pre-Olympic build-up.
With coach Tom Maher set to finalise his roster next week, the heat was on a number of players to make their case for inclusion against the powerful Canadians.
And after trailing 28-24 at the end of a scrappy first half, GB converted constant defensive hustle into a smoother scoring rhythm after the break.
An 11-2 run piloted by Nat Stafford – who had a team-best 16 points – pushed Maher’s side in front.
Others impressed. Rookies Dominique Allen, an effective presence on defence, and Temi Fagbenle (above), who had 2 athletic blocks, showed poise that suggests they will be London-bound.
While Jo Leedham hit a three-pointer which pushed Britain 47-39 ahead with eight minutes left, never allowing the visitors to come
An 11-2 run midway through the third pushed GB ahead for good as they surged 52-43 in front with eight minutes left.
Canada, paced by 19 points from ex-WNBA forward Kim Smith, used an 8-2 flurry to come within three but their revival ended there.
Leedham, who added 15 points and 6 rebounds, willed the hosts clear as ten consecutive free throws from GB propelled them away.
“It was terrific against a team we need to be able to cope with,” said Maher.
“When you look at world rankings, they’re in the mix for the Olympics. These are the kind of teams you want to compete against.”
The sides meet again at Meadowbank on Sunday (1pm) with Stafford admitting more progress will be sought.
“At the start, they couldn’t defend our transition,” she said. “We need to make sure we keep running it. At times, we get tired and break out of it but it really does work.”
GB starters: Stafford, Collins, Page, Leedham, Allen. Canada: Gabriele, Tatham, Smith, Ayim, Aubry.
Steph Gandy and Kim Butler did not play due to injury. Butler, recovering from a MCL injury, will travel to Turkey next weekend but is unlikely to feature yet.
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