Sapphires defeat New Zealand to qualify for 2016 FIBA U17 Women's World Championship

The Australian U17 Women's squad has qualified for the 2016 FIBA U17 Women's World Championship after defeating New Zealand in the gold-medal game of the FIBA Oceania U16 Championships for Women.

Ezi Magbegor put together a sensational performance, posting 23 points, 16 rebounds and 5 blocks as the Sapphires came away with 75-54 victory.

Photo credit: Basketball NZ

The first period began as a back and forth affair, with both teams struggling to find a rhythm on the offensive end. Australia managed to go on a run to end the quarter, led by Jasmin Shelley and Cassidy McLean off the bench.

Despite New Zealand suffering a 30-point defeat in the last matchup between these two sides, they managed to keep the game close, making adjustments on the defensive end - holding Australia's starting frontcourt to just 4-of-12 shooting in the first half - whilst finding their range from the perimeter.

In somewhat of a surprising scoreline, Australia would enter the main break with just a 27-25 lead over the Kiwis. Ezi Magbegor and Cassidy McLean with a team-high 6 points apiece.

New Zealand remained hot from beyond the arc, with Tiarna Clarke shooting the lights out to open the third quarter. The game remained close throughout the quarter, with Shelley's energy off the bench keeping Australia with the slight lead - heading into the final period with a 48-47 advantage.

Photo credit: Basketball NZ

Australia began the fourth quarter with a 10-0 run, led by Magbegor, who had eight points during that stretch. This much needed run saw the Sapphires extend their lead to double-figures for the first time in the game.

Magbegor continued to dominate the paint on both ends of the floor, while point guard Abby Cubillo did a tremendous job keeping control of the pace of the game.

The Sapphires would come away with the 75-54 victory, and a spot in the 2016 FIBA U17 Women's World Championship.

Magbegor finished the game with 23 points, 16 rebounds and 5 blocks, while Jazmin Shelley had yet another impressive performance, posting 16 points, 3 rebounds and 5 steals.

For more information on the roster and recaps from games throughout the week, visit our Australian U17 Women’s central page.