Jackson on fire as Opals win WC bronze

Lauren Jackson saved the best game of her Opals comeback for last, starring for Australia as they clinched World Cup bronze with a 95-65 defeat of Canada at Sydney's Qudos Bank Arena.

Jackson confirmed just hours before tip-off her Opals comeback would conclude after the World Cup, where she played all eight games for Australia following an absence of nine years from the national team.

Following a second-half rampage that helped her finish with 30 points – the second-highest tally for anyone in a single game this World Cup – Jackson left Australian fans to wonder whether she might reconsider her retirement.

Coach Sandy Brondello had alluded to the fact Australia's bench would play a big role in the bronze-medal tie, which took place just 16 hours after their semi-final loss.

But even the coach would not have been able to foresee just how pivotal her 41-year-old former teammate would be.

Her first points, a jump shot, sparked an 8-0 Australian run that helped the home side quash Canada's early dominance.

Across the board, Australia shook off the shooting woes that thwarted them in the tight semi-final loss to China.

Australia's best player across the World Cup, Steph Talbot, was the chief architect as the home side maintained their lead in the second quarter.

Talbot had 11 points for the period, including a clutch three-pointer in the final seconds, to go with some trademark defensive efforts as the Australians took an eight-point lead into the main change.

Canada's Kia Nurse contributed almost half of Canada's first-half points (19 of 43) with a versatile shooting display that made it easy to forget the World Cup had marked her return from an 11-month ACL injury lay-off.

With Canada still very much in the game after half-time, Nurse left the court after two fouls in quick succession and Australia needed to capitalise on her absence.

The majority of Australia's best players were coming off big minutes in Friday night's semi-final so the Opals found a hero in their greatest player of all time, who only made a cameo against China.

Jackson's points this tournament have come almost exclusively from beyond the arc.

But in the third quarter, she came alive in the paint and finished the third quarter with 13 points as Australia stretched out to what was ultimately a game-winning lead.

Her seven rebounds and two steals were personal bests for the tournament and when she kept her hot form up in the final quarter, the Australians were home.

Jackson's surge coincided with a downturn in Nurse's form; the Canadian failed to score after half-time and with their biggest strike weapon neutralised, Canada were never a threat to pull off a late comeback.

Jackson left the court to a standing ovation in the final three minutes as the greatest basketball career Australia has ever seen officially came to an end.

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