- National Teams
A Whitney Allen three pointer with three seconds remaining gave the GB U20 women a 58-57 victory over Portugal on Wednesday at the Division B European Championships in Bulgaria.
“I realised that the clock was running down and the opportunity fell to me which I am proud that I scored,” said Allen of the final play.
“It was such a great feeling to come away with the win after a couple of tough losses the last few days. We will look to build on this for our remaining games.”
After being edged out in the closing stages of their last three games against Lithuania, Bulgaria and Germany, GB were determined to prevail on this occasion with strong performances in the form of Janice Monakana’s game high 14 points and Cheridene Green’s double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Head Coach Peter Buckle began with Megan Lewis, Monakana, Shequila Joseph, Harriet Ottewill-Soulsby but included Jay-Ann Bravo-Harriott ahead of Claire Paxton in the only change to the starting five.
While GB opened their account with a Monakana layup and jumper plus bonus from Ottewill-Soulsby, Portugal were slow to get going missing all bar one of their first eight shots. But once they found their range, Portugal went on a 13-1 run to lead 15-8 after the first quarter.
Good GB defence prevented the Portuguese from earning another point until the fifth minute of the second quarter, while GB’s consistently better shooting average allowed them to keep within a few points of their opponents. Allen’s layup with 27 seconds remaining in the half cut the lead to two and while there was still time for one more basket from Portugal, Great Britain went to the locker room trailing by four, 24-28 and under no illusions that they had another competitive game on their hands.
Great Britain showed a further improvement after the break playing some strong defence that restricted Portugal to five from 21 shots in open play during this quarter. The lead changed just three times with GB’s confidence growing as the quarter progressed. When Hannah Peacock’s two free throws gave GB a 1-point advantage, 41-40 going into the final quarter, the watching crowd in Sofia and GB supporters must have felt this would be a tight finish – and so it proved.
Five points from Monakana began the final quarter in exactly the style GB required and they would eventually extend their lead to eight with 6:34 remaining. But Portugal fought back and were level three minutes later on 50 all. The lead would change four further times in the remaining three minutes of the game, with both teams eager for the victory.
With Portugal leading 57-56 in the final minute, Joana Soeiro missed a driving layup which would have forced GB to respond from distance. Joseph won the rebound for GB with 23 seconds left and she would get the assist, as Allen landed the jump shot just three seconds before the buzzer. There was no time for Portugal to get a shot away and after three tight games, GB had finally got over the line for another victory.
GB Head Coach Peter Buckle told gbbasketball.com:
“This under-20 team ground out a hard fought win. It was great to see us finally get across the line in a tight game and we now look forward to Bosnia later today, where we will face another tough encounter.”
Great Britain are now 2-3 from their five games and will be hoping for another win over Bosnia and Herzegovina later today, 14:00 UK time. Follow GB Basketball on Twitter for LIVE updates from the game.