Standard Life Great Britain Women secured their second straight victory in EuroBasket Qualifying, as they beat Ukraine, 57-49, in front of a sell-out crowd at the Surrey Sports Park in Guildford.
This victory for Great Britain means they are in a three-way tie at the top with the Slovak Republic and Germany – as they head into the second half of the qualifying campaign. Johannah Leedham led the British scoring, with 18 points – Natalie Stafford poured in 10, as the hosts made up for their poor first-half display to come away with the win.
“I’m delighted we won, absolutely, but not the way we won. “ GB Women’s coach, Tom Maher said after the game.
“Over the course of the game we struggled with the fundamentals, Jo (Leedham) hit some big shots but I didn’t think she had a very good game. We competed well, and Natalie (Stafford) had some good plays, but we didn’t play well and we need to be more consistent.
“Germany winning may work in our favour as we can win the group, we try hard and you can’t fault our effort, so that’s a positive.”
It was Ukraine though, who got out of the blocks quickest, and they held GB scoreless for the first three minutes of action, but Kim Butler put the hosts on the board. Great Britain were struggling though, and half-way through, found themselves 15-9 down.
Olena Ogorodnikova extended the visitors advantage in the early stages of the second quarter. They were up, 20-9 – and Maher was forced into calling a timeout.
Leedham and Ogorodnikova traded three-pointers, whilst Butler and Stafford tried keeping the Brits in touch, but Ukraine were comfortable, despite the close, 25-21 scoreline at half-time.
The third stanza was a slog, as Great Britain took the lead for the first time, as Julie Page went on to score, but the quarter was defensive minded. A Natalie Stafford triple, gave GB a 38-35 cushion, going into the final quarter.
Leedham took over in fourth, exploding her side’s lead to 51-39 with two triples – and it was extended further to 14 points, before an 8-0 run by Ukraine lowered the deficit to, 55-49, to make the last minute a nerve-racking one for the GB faithful. Butler though iced
a pair of foul-shots to make the game safe.
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net