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Olympics: Taylor stars as Opals defeat France, win third straight
Penny Taylor’s emphatic display has seen the Australian National Women’s Basketball Team make it three wins from as many games in the Rio Olympic Games, accounting for France 88-71.
The Opals were a much more polished outfit against the French than they were in their previous game against Turkey, with Taylor’s brilliance on full display.
Taylor was on song from the opening tip, pouring in 31 points, nine assists, three steals and a block in one of the best performances by an Australian female basketballer in recent time.
The Opals fed off the star guard, who in 27 minutes scorched the French defence with 10 of 13 from the field, plus a perfect 8 of 8 from the charity stripe.
Elizabeth Cambage featured in limited minutes for 16 points and seven rebounds, however was well managed with Brendan Joyce using his entire squad to diminish their opposition.
Mariana Tolo and Erin Phillips both played valuable roles behind Taylor. Tolo recording 14 points and four rebounds; Phillips nine points and five assist as the supporting cast.
It was a somewhat staggered opening, as stoppages were aplenty due to an abundance of early fouls; Cambage having to head to the bench early after picking up two quick one’s after contributing six of her 16 points in the first two minutes. French captain Isabelle Yacoubou and Valeriane Ayayi also found themselves in early foul trouble in a quarter which entailed 15 total fouls.
After a quiet night against Turkey, the night clearly belonged to Australian superstar Penny Taylor who bounced back in a big way, opening up with nine points in the first quarter.
That hot streak continued throughout the remainder of the first half, taking her tally up to 17 points and four assists on a perfect 5-5FG shooting (5-5FT), as the Opals rallied to open up a 17 point lead at the main break.
The second quarter was all Taylor, as the Opals burst out of the blocks with a 15-0 run to begin the second stanza to lead 36-19 before a much needed French time-out. Tolo and Leilani Mitchell (3 points, 5 assists) also both featured heavily in the second quarter beatdown.
France opened up the second half breathing a little more fire and behind Olivia Epoupa (15 points, 7 rebounds, 7 steals) had the game back to within nine. That mini French renaissance was short lived though, with Taylor and Phillips wrestling back the momentum to break the game open, leading by 19 at the final break.
It was a similar situation in the fourth, as Epoupa attempted to put the team on her shoulders and will France back into the contest. Five points in a hurry to the nifty guard had Australia’s lead back to 12.
However, whenever the Opals needed a basket to steady the ship, up stood Taylor knocking down a three-pointer which then reignited Australia’s offence, including a sweet Mitchell to Cambage alley-oop!
With the victory, it’s now looking more than likely that Australia will claim top spot in Group A, pending they can salute in their final two pool games against Belarus and Japan.
The Opals next face Japan at 6:45am AEST Friday morning in their second last pool game.