AUSTRALIA LEAVE GB DOWN BUT NOT OUT

Great Britain’s women were thrashed 87-63 by 2008 Olympic silver medallists Australia on Saturday in Sheffield. 

The Opals led 52-45 at half-time but with Liz Cambage in inspirational form to claim a game-best 29 points and 11 rebounds, the visitors pulled clear in the third period to leave Tom Maher’s side in their wake.

It won’t get any easier for GB when they take on another Olympic medal hopeful France on Sunday.

Although the Australians pulled away in the second half, GB will be able to use this meeting as great preparation for when the two teams meet again in their first Olympic clash on July 28.

Azania Stewart, who scored 10 points and four rebounds for GB, was pleased with how hard the team worked against Australia.

“I think we came out ready in the first half,” she said. “We played really strong and got Lauren Jackson in quick foul trouble, which was good.

Leedham battles past Jenna O’Hea (MAP/BB)

“In the second half we couldn’t really get it going and they blew it open, but obviously I’m really proud of our efforts as they are the number two team in the world.”

She added: “I’m disappointed we lost but we can learn from this when we play them again in the Olympics.”

In the early stages of the match, both teams traded baskets but neither side could take control of the game. After Australia had built themselves a 14-10 advantage, GB responded with an 8-3 run to take an 18-17 lead on a pair of Stef Collins free-throws.

Further scores from Julie Page and Kim Butler helped keep GB ahead until the last two minutes of the first quarter when an 8-3 run from Australia saw them end the period 28-23 ahead.

Australia pushed the lead to 47-36 in the second quarter, but Jo Leedham led the fight-back as GB cut the deficit at the half.

Great Britain found scoring hard to come by in the third period and fell 67-47  behind before GB closed the gap to 71-54 heading into the final period.

The hosts battled hard in the fourth but Australia finished the game strongly to take the win.

GB Coach Tom Maher believes his side learned a great deal from the defeat.

“I think today was interesting and it was very good for us to play them,” said Maher. “I think it was good for our players to understand the physicality, although it was not a rough game.

“We’re playing Australia, it’s not easy but we can take a lot out of it and hopefully we can do the country proud.”

Jo Leedham top scored for GB with 12 along with four rebounds and five assists while Page picked up the most rebounds with eight to go with her six points.

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