Despite an early surge and tenacious, well-drilled defence from the Chinese national team, the Deakin Melbourne Boomers took a 79-70 preseason win at Casey Basketball Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Boomers were led by Maddie Garrick's game-high 26 points, and Ezi Magbegor's 22-point, 9-rebound performance.
Garrick also recorded 6 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks in nearly 29 minutes of play.
The 27 year old guard's agility and instincts made her difficult to contain, especially when making reads straight off the catch.
China’s leading performers included sharpshooter Liang Jiamei (18 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists) who hit 6 of 12 from the three-point arc, and forward Shan Wanli who scored from both inside and out (17 points, 2 rebounds). Chinese guard Fang Min (17 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists) was aggressive on both ends, be it pressuring her defensive assignment or driving to the hoop even through contact.
The Boomers were leading 23-18 by the end of the first quarter, and led by eight at the half. China pulled the gap to a 4-point deficit in the third, and took the lead at the nine-minute mark in the final frame, thanks to a three-point play from Fang Min.
Melbourne rallied back however, and a three-pointer from Garrick extended the Boomers' lead back to 5, with less than three minutes to go. Despite a valiant Chinese effort, Magbegor took firm control of the game's final possessions, keeping the game out of reach.
In the Boomers' final possession, Garrick and Magbegor looked like they were running the same screen and roll play seen earlier in the second quarter, where a trap on Garrick turned into an easy layup for Magbegor.
Soon as the defence tried to switch assignments and cover Magbegor however, Garrick did not hesitate on the sliver of space offered, swishing a final three to seal the game 79-70.
Purcell was pleased with the performance and believes it set the Boomers up nicely as they build towards the start of the WNBL season in October.
“It was a good win. From our first game that we played on Saturday, there is definitely a lot of improvement that we made in this game against China” Kalani Purcell said post-game. “They’re a really good shooting team and I think we did a pretty decent job. We can only go up from here.”
Boomers head coach, Guy Molloy commented on the team's improved effort and offensive execution. “We had some different offence we were working on tonight. You would expect a natural improvement from pre-season game two, after preseason game one so I think we got that.
“Our effort was stronger, so overall a pretty good night.”
The Boomers head to Latrobe Valley for The Triple Crown next, where they play Bendigo Spirit on 15th September, Sunday.
Full box score available.