South Africa coasted to victory at the Africa Netball Cup in Cape Town on Tuesday, ending the tournament unbeaten as they lifted the continental crown.
Facing a an energetic Zambian side who were explosive from the start, the Proteas held their nerve and ultimately drew clear to wrap up a 72-53 win in their last pool match of the five-day tournament.
Though the Proteas took early control, holding a 17-12 lead at the end of the first quarter, Zambia managed to stay in touch, and the hosts were just six points ahead (31-25) at half-time.
The South Africans displayed more composure in the third stanza, however, strengthening their grip on the encounter.
Heading into the last period with a 53-37 advantage, and despite coach Dorette Badenhorst making wholesale changes in the latter stages of the game, they stretched their lead even further before the final whistle.
The Proteas defeated all six of their opponents in the round robin competition, with the organisers combining two pools and adjusting the format following the late withdrawal of Tanzania on the eve of the event.
While they earned convincing victories in most of their fixtures, the SA team had to work hard for wins over perennial rivals Malawi (56-51) and rising stars Uganda (50-47).
With Malawi beating Uganda in their round robin clash, the Queens finished second in the final standings after being handed only one defeat by South Africa.
Uganda earned the bronze medal after securing four wins from their six matches.
Though none of the host nation’s players were among the recipients, perhaps highlighting their all-round effort, the tournament awards were spread out among the other teams.
The Most Valuable Player accolade went to Mary Cholock of Uganda, with Takondwa Lwazi of Malawi being named Best Centre Court Player and Beauty Nakazwe of Zambia unveiled as the Most Accurate Shooter.