If the Australian National women’s basketball team’s coach Robbee Cadee needs someone to vouch that his team deserves to be in the 1992 Summer Olympics, he should contact DeKalb.
“They’re wanting to qualify for the Olympics,” NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle said. “This tour is to help them qualify for the Olympics. If anybody asks me for a vote, I would tell them they’re pretty doggone good.”
Australia’s American excursion brought it to the Chick Evans Field House Sunday afternoon, where it beat the Huskies 93-67 in NIU’s season-opening exhibition game. The 1,445 in attendance watched as the Nationals played like the team it is—experienced, with six players at least 25-years-old.
“We shot the ball very well,” Cadee said. “We executed quite well in the half-court. I thought we played a very good game tonight offensively and defensively—we were fairly committed the majority of the game.”
Offensively, the Huskies were rusty the entire contest, as they shot 33 percent from the field and committed 46 turnovers.
“Forty-six turnovers is something I was not expecting,” Albright-Dieterle said. “I think we’ve got to respect ball possession much, much more than that.”
With the Huskies up 7-6 with 14 minutes left in the first half, Australia’s forward Shelly Gorman hit a 3-pointer. Australia then scored 11 points in the next three minutes to take a 20-9 lead.
Gorman came off the bench to tie NIU guard Cindy Conner as the game’s leading scorer with 17 points.
“(Gorman) shot very well tonight,” Cadee said. “I don’t know what she ended up with, but she must have shot at a high percentage.”
Down 33-17 with six minutes left in the first half, the Huskies made a run. NIU had just scored five unanswered points when forward Angela Lockett scored from inside to cut Australia’s lead to 33-24.
But Australia scored 14 points in the half’s final four minutes to go into the lockerroom with a 47-28 lead.
Samantha Thornton recorded 13 points and six rebounds for Australia. Teammate Jenny Whittle added 13 points and seven boards.
Besides Conner, no one on NIU scored more than nine points. Conner was the game’s leading rebounder with 10.
“I think the score is an indication of the game,” Albright-Dieterle said. “I think there is some indication there of a very, very, very experienced team that, basically, gave us a lesson in the game of basketball.”