Nairobi — The national women's basketball team staged an impressive comeback to beat Cape Verde 61-58 in their second game at the FIBA Afrobasket in Yaounde, Cameroon on Sunday night.
The Kenya Lionesses trailed 33-28 at half time but rallied in the last two quarters to pick their first victory in Group A and revitalise their hopes of progressing.
USA-based forward Victoria Reynolds was Kenya's best player in the game amassing 17 points with five rebounds and five assists while Christine Akinyi contributed 14 points.
"We knew we had to bounce back from the opening day loss and we worked hard as a team. We corrected some of the mistakes that we had against Cameroon and we played better," Reynolds who was instrumental in Kenya's qualification said.
Meanwhile, coach Jacob Opel said; "This game was all about motivating the girls and trying to get them into the right mental space. We worked hard as a team and got a good result," said the tactician.
With under two minutes left to play, Kenya were trailing 54-56 before Mercy Wanyama was fouled and swung in both her free throws to tie the game at 56-ups.
However, Cape Verde went back to the lead with Ornela Livramento's lay up adding a further two points. What followed was a tense back and forth between the two sides.
With 55secs left on the clock, the Lionesses put up the pressure and Christine Akinyi levelled the scores at 58-58, with the tension in the game rising a notch higher.
The Lionesses were handed an opportunity to take the lead with 42secs left after two free throws were awarded following an unsportsmanlike foul by Cape Verde's Monalisa Mendes. Selina Okumu swung in one of the attempts while the other bounced off the rim.
Kenya were now leading the tie with half a basket. With 32secs left, the inform Akinyi took Kenya's tally to a three point gap with a well taken jump shot inside the arc off Natalie Akinyi's bounce pass.
Akinyi should have added to her point haul when she drew a foul on Livramento but missed her attempt. The Cape Verde girls pushed in the fight to make up the three-point gap. But, it was Kenya who were playing the more smart way.
Selina Okumu was fouled for two free throws at the buzzer, but couldn't get in any of her two attempts. However, the victory had already been sealed.