Maher happy with GB women's effort

29 July 2012 / 10:46

Great Britain women's basketball coach Tom Maher was happy with the effort his players showed as they went down 74-58 to world number two Australia in their Olympics debut.

Poor shooting stopped them from pushing Australia any closer, as they made only seven of 30 from the field in the first half, and finished 20 of 67 for the game.

"We had our moments but we didn't get too many wide open looks," said Maher. "The time and space you have is limited when the player defending you is quicker, their arms are a little bit longer. We had to earn our baskets, and our shooting was probably about fair enough against decent defenders with fine athleticism and high basketball IQ.

"I'm very happy to get into the Olympics. It's the first time for all our players, we're playing the number two team and we're 49th. I hope the girls enjoyed it and I thought it was a really good performance from us."

Britain were afforded no time to settle into the game as Australia scored the first points after just seven seconds, Liz Cambage making her shot and sending Stef Collins sprawling.

Britain responded well, and Natalie Stafford hit four straight free throws to bring them level 11-11. But Britain were struggling to get their shots to fall from the field, and Australia capitalised by going on an 18-0 tear, leading 29-11 on Samantha Richards' jump-shot.

Julie Page eventually ended the British drought, and they found renewed fighting spirit towards the end of the second quarter, with big shots from Azania Stewart, Page and Chantelle Handy cutting the gap to 37-26 before Kristi Harrower scored the final points of the first half.

Britain came out strongly after the break, and quick baskets from Temi Fagbenle and Rachel Vanderwal cut the gap to 45-34. Australia kept finding a response, but a great steal from Leedham set up Vanderwal to make it 49-38, and the gap hovered around 11 with Page's jump-shot making it 53-42 late in the third quarter.

Australia pushed their lead to 60-42 early in the fourth quarter but although Page fouled out after a clash with Jackson that saw both players handed technicals, they kept fighting and Stewart's lay-up cut it to 66-53 with a little over five minutes left.

But Australia always had an answer and kept Britain at arm's length until the finish, and Stafford said: "They're just too good. They're bigger, all their players are all-round players. We just tried to stick it to them, to be tough, and they gave it back to us. I thought we did a good job though, and it wasn't too bad considering it was the second-ranked team in the world."