Rio Olympics: foul trouble keeps Perth Lynx’s Nat Burton to limited minutes in Opals win over Turkey

Nat Burton defends against Turkey's Nevriye Yilmaz  during the Opals Group A game at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Picture: Okan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Nat Burton defends against Turkey's Nevriye Yilmaz during the Opals Group A game at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Picture: Okan Ozer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

THE OPALS escaped a tight tussle against Turkey with a narrow 61-56 win in their second group A match this morning.

Australia was far from its best and struggled to stop Turkey’s penetrating attack for much of the highly physical game.

Both teams registered high foul counts, which forced Australia coach Brendan Joyce to keep star centre Liz Cambage, Perth Lynx forward Nat Burton and Marianna Tolo to limited minutes.

Turkey, the world number 10 team, made a fast start and caused early headaches for Australia but the Opals hit back to steal the lead at the midway point of the first quarter.

But Australia could not stop Turkey’s two marquee players, Isil Albern and Nevriye Yilmaz, and trailed at the first break 15-12.

With a new line-up headed by Tessa Lavey and Katie-Rae Ezbery, Australia regained a 22-20 lead in the early stages of the second quarter highlighted by three-pointers from Lavey.

After a few sprays from coach Joyce, the Opals tightened their defence to combat Turkey from penetrating two-pointers.

Turkish 1.91m forward Lara Saunders and Yilmaz found a way to give their side a 29-26 lead at half time.

Australia outscored a tiring Turkey in the third, as Cambage and Kayla George found their field range despite Saunders single-handedly keeping Turkey alive.

The Opals did enough to keep Albern and Yilmaz quiet and brought a 43-41 advantage into the final quarter.

Australia’s captain Penny Taylor brought her 18-year experience to steady the ship in the final quarter, as the Opals showed maturity and composure to finish off strongly to ensure their second win.

Despite being well held, Cambage managed her second double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Taylor and Lavey also starred in key moments.

Turkey walked away with another loss as a best on court performance from Saunders was not enough.

Australia next plays France on Tuesday at 11.15pm WST.