Leger-Walker casts spell on Otago

Charlisse Leger-Walker attempts a free throw during a Tall Ferns training game in Auckland last...
Charlisse Leger-Walker. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
A tough start became even tougher for the Otago Gold Rush.

It followed a loss in its women’s National Basketball League opener with a 91-36 thrashing from the Waikato Wizards in Auckland on Saturday.

The Gold Rush struggled against what is likely to be the champion team and boasts several high-level players.

Included among them is Washington State University star Charlisse Leger-Walker.

The guard is a genuine world-class player who showed all her quality in posting 25 points, eight rebounds, three assists and four steals to lead the Wizards.

Her older sister, Krystal, was similarly influential with 10 points, seven assists, six rebounds and five steals.

The Gold Rush struggled to generate offence, although point guard Caitlin O’Connell posted 11 points in a handy display.

Otago struggled with Waikato’s defensive pressure, finishing with 32 turnovers, while it also gave up 19 offensive rebounds.

The Wizards took the lead early, but the Gold Rush was able to hang around after a Bronwyn Kjestrup three-pointer and a Savanna Handevidt high post jump shot.

That helped it to 15-9, before Waikato pulled away as Krystal Leger-Walker and Breana Jones made it 20-9 at quarter-time.

After the break, Charlisse Leger-Walker sparked a 10-0 run to start the second quarter to make it 30-9.

O’Connell did her best to keep the Gold Rush going, but it still trailed 37-19 at halftime.

Any chance of a comeback was snuffed out in the third quarter, as Waikato piled on a 33-6 run to lead 70-25 at the final break.

The Gold Rush plays again on Thursday, against the Harbour Breeze, which was beaten 82-73 by the Auckland Dream on Saturday.

An Otago double-header against the Dream and the Canterbury Wildcats will follow over the weekend.


 

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