Emerging Opals hold off Czech's fast finish to claim fifth | 2015 World University Games

Australia have put behind them the disappointment of missing out on a medal by securing fifth place after holding off a fast finish by the Czech Republic to prevail 56-51 at the 2015 World University Games.

Leading by as many as 16 points with less than 5 minutes remaining, Australia withstood an 11-0 run by their opponents to hold on for a 5 point win. Stephanie Talbot was the lone Australian to reach double figures, providing a game-high 13 points with 6 rebounds, with Tessa Lavey chipping in with 8 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. In finishing fifth, the Emerging Opal's only loss for the tournament was against Japan who played off for bronze.

Talbot had 13 points in the win over the Czech Republic.

In a tough, tight affair, both sides traded baskets to open the game. Lauren Scherf was able to impart an early influence on the contest, however the Czech's soon managed to edge away by as many as 6 points. Olivia Thompson and Stephanie Talbot both scored late to narrow the margin to just 2 points at quarter time (14-16).

Playing inspired defense, the Emerging Opals made their run to open the second period. Carley Mijovic (8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 steals) set the tone defensively with two early steals and a basket, with Talbot and Thompson then helping put Australia back in front. To close out the half on a high, Australia strung together 12 unanswered points, with Darcee Garbin adding 6. The UniRoos held the Czech's to just 6 points for the period in creating a 32-20 half time lead.

The Czech Republic fought back would have been expected, returning the contest to the dour struggle that was evident in the first quarter. While the Czech's were playing well, they were unable to make inroads into the Australian lead. When the Czech coach received a technical after Thompson drew a foul, Australia turned the situation into a 5 point play, ensuring they entered the final quarter with a 14 point lead (50-36).

After 3 minutes with neither team able to land a blow, it was the Czech's who struck first. Australia were leading by 16 points when Alice Kunek scored her first and only basket of the game with 4:49 remaining, however that would be their last score for the game. The UniRoos shooting went cold as the Czech's threw everything at them, closing with a 11-0 only to fall short by 5 points.

Australia's hot shooting throughout the tournament from long-range was dampened by the Czech Republic, going only 1/10 from distance. The UniRoos had a clear advantage in the paint (47-32) but turned the ball over 24 times to the Czech's 17.

While the team would be disappointed that they did not medal, they can take great heart from the way they ended the tournament with just a single loss to Japan.


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