Standard Life Great Britain scored an unlikely win in Kosice, as they beat the Slovak Republic, 70-63 – to improve to 3-1 in Group D – and close in on a birth at EuroBasket 2011 in Poland.
Johannah Leedham hit 26 points for the victors with Natalie Stafford adding ten points – as Great Britain now go into Thursday’s home game with Germany full of confidence and momentum.
The game was tied at 5 in the early stages, when eight straight points from Leedham gave GB a 13-9 lead, before the Slovakians responded with a 12-1 run which forced Great Britain coach, Tom Maher to call a timeout. It had a limited effect, as the hosts led after one (26-16).
The Brits had trimmed the lead to nine, when Leedham drained a three-pointer to ignite a 13-5 surge – which finished with a Julie Page score, on the buzzer to cut the Slovak Republic’s lead down to just one (38-37) at the end of the half.
Leedham, who made six of her nine three-point attempts, drained her fifth to begin the third, as the visitors enjoyed a four point advantage – which grew to six, following a jump-shot from Azania Stewart with just over two minutes remaining in the third period. The hosts came back – and narrowed the deficit to three going into the final ten minutes. (53-50).
The final quarter was nip-and-tuck, as a Lucia Lascova bucket gave the Slovaks the lead again, but this night belonged to the Brits, as Johannah Leedham hit her sixth three, and Stephanie Collins secured the big win from the foul line.
“We started the game with a shoot-out, and Slovakia won that comfortably, going in ahead by ten at quarter-time.” Coach, Tom Maher said after the game.
“For them to score 26 in the first quarter, and only 25 in the second half is a telling stat.”
Maher had praise for leading scorer Jo Leedham – who hit six triples in a 26 point haul – but believed the win was down to the effort put in by his team.
“Jo Leedham was sensational but it really was a team effort. We’re pretty sure this is Britain’s first win over Slovakia, so we are all pretty proud.” Maher concluded.
John Hobbs for TalkBasket.net