Great Britain lost their EuroBasket Women qualifier to a tough, well-organised Belraus in Manchester on Sunday evening.
After an opening-game win in Poland on Thursday, Chema Buceta’s team found their visitors a tougher nut to crack.
The Belarussians used their inside strength, ball movement and deadly outside shooting to good effect and despite a gutsy effort, GB – again without the injured Jo Leedham – could not find a way back.
Buceta started with Eilidh Simpson, Rachael Vanderwal, Karlie Samuelson, Chantelle Handy, Temi Fagbenle.
An early three from Samuelson put GB 7-5 ahead but after that the Belarussians used their inside strength to work their way into a lead of 21-15 by the end if the first quarter.
Yuliya Rytsikava added a three and Viktoryia Hasper grabbed a two under the basket for the visitors to turn up the pressure, Buceta calling a time-out with the score at 28-18 early in the second quarter.
Simpson hit back with a three of her own to cut the deficit to five but Belarus went on another run with Anastasiya Verameyenka making her impressive physical presence pay to end half 40-27 up.
The visitors kept their momentum in the third despite a few flashes of inspiration from Vanderwal and stretched their advantage to 60-42 going into the final quarter.
Threes from Georgia Jones and Handy (twice) gave GB a lift early in the fourth, but Belarus kept their concentration and a three from Maryia Papova pushed the visitors’ lead over 20 points before they sealed a 90-59 win.
Fagbenle led the GB scoring with 16, backed by Handy (12), Samuelson (10) and Vanderwal (8).
Papova was the game’s high-scorer with 24 while Verameyenka had a double double of 17 points and 11 rebounds as Belraus won the battle of the boards 51-33 and shot an impressive 52% from three point range.