Senegal make history by becoming the first African team to win a game in the group stage of the FIBA Women’s World Cup following their 70-69 win over Latvia on Sunday.
Prior to this tournament, all wins for Senegal at the World Cup had come from classification games after dropping from the group stage. Wins against Malaysia and Zaire in 1990, Argentina in 1998, Tunisia in 2002 and Nigeria in 2006.
The Teranga Lionesses displayed bravery and high intensity in the first half as they ensured they were just a point away from Latvia going to the break (28-29).
Latvia and Senegal lost their opening games to China and USA respectively with both seeking for a win to take them to the next round.
Yacine Diop was at her best scoring 13 points, 5/6 of her shooting with 7 boards and 2 steals while 2017 Afrobasket MVP, Astou Traore led with a game high 19 points and 4 rebounds. Oumoul Sarr added 11 points, 66.7% FG and 3/5 from the free throw line.
With 27 seconds remaining, Latvia were on verge of snatching the victory after Aija Brumermane made a layup (69-68) but a jump shot by Mame Diop sealed the victory for Senegal with 12 seconds left on the clock.
Four Latvians finished on double digits Kristen Vitola had 14 points, 6 rebounds; Elina Dikaioulaku 13 points and 5 assists, Kitija Laksa had 12 points. Anete Steinberg scored her second consecutive double-double, 12 points and 15 boards.
The historic win for Senegal is their first ever win against European opposition at the World Cup and also first success since 2006.
Speaking to the media after the game in Tenerife Traore said, “It was great. It is a game that counts. For us, today was like a final. Yesterday we played a very difficult game and we played well. I think today we deserved this win because the whole team wanted to win and they (Latvia) wanted it too. I congratulate all the girls, the staff because we played very well. It’s the first time we beat a European team. It’s a dream. It was a real objective to win one game, to win several games and to advance. But we’re not going to stop here, we’re going to continue working.”
Senegal coach Cheikh Sarr also made history winning a second World Cup game following his win on September 1, 2014, were he led Senegal Men’s Basketball to a 77-75 win over Croatia in Spain.