Kenya started their title defense campaign on a winning note by beating Uganda 53-61 in a heated match of the Zone five FIBA Women’s AfroBasket qualifiers on Tuesday in Lugogo.
Kenya’s offense was led by Mercy Wanyama, who tallied 15 points and three rebounds as Christine Akinyi and Madina Okot contributed 14 and eight points respectively, to defeat the hosts.
Kenya was quick to dominate and win the first quarter 16-7, which saw Madina destabilize the Gazelles who later forced a return into play cutting down the difference in the second quarter of play with Ritah Immanishimwe’s jump shot and Brenda Ekone’s efforts on the free throw line after she was fouled.
By halftime, Kenya had a ten-point lead despite efforts by Uganda to bounce back towards the end of the third quarter.
America-based Jannon Otto stood out for the Gazelles tallying eleven points and six rebounds and so did Hope Akello who posted ten points and six rebounds.
Once again Rita Imanishimwe with a three-pointer reduced the seven-point deficit from 32-39 to 35-39, before Brenda Ekone picked up a rebound at the right time to make the score 37-39.
After the score was squared at 39, it was Imanishimwe to step up and convert from the free throw line, giving Uganda the lead for the first time in the entire game at 40-39.
The Kenya Lionesses however bossed the final quarter where the hosts suffered a knee injury on small forward Jannon Otto, with 60 seconds on the clock.
The Gazelles face Egypt next on Wednesday in a must-win game, as five countries battle for one single slot at the 2023 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket.