TEAM TALK: Team Bahamas closed out FIBA Women's Centrobasket yesterday with a 68-65 victory over Guatemala.
By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
AFTER a disappointing showing with four consecutive losses, the Bahamas closed out the FIBA Women's Centrobasket 2017 with a win in their final game.
Leashja Grant delivered another dominant performance with 14 points and 21 rebounds in the Bahamas' 68-65 win over Guatemala yesterday at UVI Arena in St Thomas, United States Virgin Islands.
Valerie Nesbitt finished with 12 points and five assists, Shalonda Neely added 10 points and six rebounds while team captain Phylicia Kelly chipped in with eight points.
The Bahamas had their best shooting game of the tournament at 40 per cent from the field and 40 per cent from three-point range while they also limited Guatemala to just 28 per cent.
Grant led the Bahamas' dominance on the boards, winning the rebounding advantage 60-36. They also scored 36 points in the paint, a 14-point edge over Guatemala while they also outscored them by 45 in bench points.
Neely scored the final four points for the Bahamas as they moved ahead in the game's final minute. Guatemala took the lead from the free throw line (65-64) with 1:56 left in regulation.
Neely grabbed an offensive rebound and scored the putback to give the Bahamas a 66-65 lead at the 1:10 mark and followed with the game's final score, a tip-in with 30 seconds left to play.
The Bahamas took an early lead in the first quarter, something that has been rare for the team throughout the tournament.
Tracey Lewis' runner with less than 30 seconds left to play gave the Bahamas a 17-8 lead headed into the second period. Guatemala opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run to tie the game at 17 on an Alma Lopez layup.
Lashae Rolle's baseline jumper stemmed the tide and stopped the drought for the Bahamas. Guatemala would take their first lead of the game on a Krystha Cano layup, before Rolle tied it again with another jumper and Joette Fernander's jumper regained the lead for the Bahamas. They took a 25-24 lead into the half. Guatemala took control in the third quarter and took a four point lead into the final frame. The Bahamas had its top scoring period of the tournament when they outscored Guatemala 26-19 to close out the game.
Lopez led Guatemala with 20 points, Emily Rosales scored 16 and Sonia Vasquez scored 15.
The Bahamas opened the tournament with a closely contested hard fought loss to Mexico and went on to also drop decisions against Jamaica, the USVI and Puerto Rico.
The tournament featured The Bahamas, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
After the 5-day tournament, the top three teams will qualify to the FIBA Women's AmeriCup 2017, to be played in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from August 6-13.
The previous edition of the Women's Centrobasket Championship was played in Monterrey, Mexico, where Cuba captured the title with a perfect 5-0 record.