Their eventual 67-36 victory ensures some pride is regained for the Sunshine Girls, although the scoreline and their performance will also give great heart to the Scots..
Both sides started strongly, but an early injury to Shanice Beckford disrupted Jamaica’s rhythm. Scotland were neck and neck with their opponents – ranked number two in the world – throughout the early stages, and it then got even better for Gail Parata’s side.
An overthrown pass meant the Thistles missed their first chance to take the lead, but Lynsey Gallagher made no mistake with the second. Emma Barrie popped one in and Scotland were 12-10 ahead, a margin of advantage which they retained until the closing stages of the quarter, when Jhaniele Fowler brought Jamaica back to within one at 14-13.
Regardless, the impressive scoreline gave Scotland a rare quarter-win against the Sunshine Girls.
Fowler brought the scores level in the second quarter, before both sides surrendered their next possession. Fowler – at the second time of asking – regained the lead for the Sunshine Girls, making it 15-14.
Both sides were loose in passing, before Fowler’s accuracy carved out a three-goal lead. Scotland’s inability to retain possession was beginning to prove costly, and substitute Rebekah Robinson was starting to fire, extending the difference to six goals.
Good work by Gallagher was appreciated by the Scots in the M&S Bank Arena crowd, as she registered to make the score 24-18. However, Romelda Aiken was then deployed from the bench for Jamaica, who continued to pull away from their determined opponents, and ended the half 32-21 up.
Unsurprisingly, it was Fowler on target again for the first score of the second half. An Aiken miss left the goal post shaking, but normal service was soon resumed as Jamaica pushed 36-22 ahead.
Scotland were still finding it difficult to retain the ball, and the yellow dresses of the Jamaican players were swarming about the court with renewed purpose, which allowed them to net the next four goals.
Despite a double Thistles substitution, they continued to slip further behind, with the lead extending out to 20. Jamaica goal keeper Shamera Sterling was proving a disruptive force to the Scotland attack on many occasions, not allowing the Thistles attackers any easy ball.
Niamh McCall produced a fine leaping interception, but Jamaica were now into their stride, and had the final say in the quarter, having established a 50-26 lead, with Fowler on target 40 times.
Jamaica coach Marvette Anderson switched things around in the fourth quarter, giving game time to all her squad. The first six goals were shared equally, before a misplaced Aiken pass allowed Scotland to narrow the gap slightly.
The Sunshine Girls came back to win the quarter 17-10, though, and with it the game, 67-36.
Scotland coach Gail Parata:
“We came out today hoping we might be able to surprise Jamaica in that first quarter and get the lead. We debated whether to risk players, because the game we really want is Trinidad and Tobago (tomorrow), but we thought we’d see how the first quarter went, and we were delighted to be in front.
“In the second quarter we knew they’d up their game, and we couldn’t keep pace with them. The Jamaican team that we know – the speed and the flair they have – came out in the second and third quarters, but I was pleased with our finish too.”