GB Women’s basketball team overcame a partisan home crowd of 2,900 spectators, plus a second quarter fight back from the home team, to start their 2019 EuroBasket campaign with a convincing 74-60 win over Latvia.
Latvia got the home crowd going with the first four points of the game before GB’s Jo Leedham-Warner got GB on the points board with a three-point play. This sparked GB into life as Fagbenle and Handy both got baskets soon after to give GB the lead.
After a period of low scoring, three three-pointers were buried in quick succession through Jo Leedham-Warner and Janice Monakana to help GB end the quarter up by 24-17.
Temi Fagbenle netted the first basket of the second quarter. Soon after, Jo Leedham-Warner sank her fourth three-pointer as GB’s advantage reached double digits.
Latvia then worked their way back into the game, led by Paula Strautmane and Zenta Malnika who each recorded six points in the quarter. By the end of the first half, Latvia had cut the deficit back to two points, with GB leading by 41-39.
Jo Leedham-Warner started the third as she finished the second with two more perfect free throws and Fagbenle added two lay-ups as GB looked to open up their advantage again. Latvia’s offense came to life and scored six without reply to tie the game. Karlie Samuelson hit back with a three to edge GB back in front.
Through Georgia Jones and Jo Leedham-Warner, GB began to hit their stride as they took a 14-point advantage. Cheridene Green added two from the free throw line as GB extended their scoring run to 16. Latvia eventually halted the streak, netting a jump shot with two minutes left in the third, but GB held the gap for the remainder of the quarter as Rachael Vanderwal ended the third with a late basket to make it 65-49.
After a strong third quarter it took GB almost two and a half minutes in the fourth quarter to find the basket, with Temi Fagbenle finally getting the and-1 play. Fagbenle added a hook shot two minutes later and GB were up 18 as Latvia called a timeout with 06:45 left on the clock.
Chantelle Handy bucketed from the wing after great play from Jones, but Latvia replied with a three as they attempted to stay in the game. It had little effect as GB held on to take a memorable win by 74-60.
With Leedham-Warner finishing with 24 points, Fagbenle with 13 and Karlie Samulelson with 15, the point spread will please coach Chema Buceta.
Although this will be a huge confidence-boost for GB Women and for their hopes of qualifying from the group, there will be little time to enjoy it, as Spain await them at Arena Riga tomorrow night. Tip-off 7pm.