Australia’s Gems have progressed to an Under 19 World Cup quarter-final against Mali after once again asserting their dominance on the glass to edge past a stubborn Colombian side, 62-53.
Isabelle Bourne led the scoring for the Australians with 11 points off the bench, whilst Isobel Anstey and Agnes Emma-Nnopu both hit double-figures in rebounds as the Gems collected 68 boards to 38.
The interior battle between the Australian frontcourt and 6’6 Yuliany Paz provided an interesting subplot in the opening stages as the Colombian found some early success, but the Gems quickly adjusted. With Paz finding no real support in the paint and the Australian bigs doing some outstanding work to nullify her impact, 36 of Colombia’s 65 shots came from beyond the arc. But on a poor shooting afternoon for both teams, only eight of those shots fell as the attempts became longer and more desperate in the final minutes as they tried to cut into the Gems’ margin.
Meanwhile, the Gems shot 39% in the first half to open up a 40-22 lead as the teams headed to the locker rooms, but that number dwindled as the game progressed after halftime, with the lead following the same trajectory as Colombia moved within seven at one point. But despite shooting just 29% for the game and coughing up 21 turnovers, the Gems’ rebounding dominance and ability to force Colombia to turn the ball 19 times themselves allowed them to maintain a reasonable advantage deep into the game despite some lacklustre moments in the second half.
The Gems held Colombia to just seven points in the final term despite scoring just seven points of their own, with the team from South America briefly drawing within six points before Australia held them scoreless for the final six minutes of the contest. However, the Gems will no doubt want to improve their own play in the latter stages in the quarter-finals after coming up with just three points of their own.
Alongside Bourne’s 11 points and 4 rebounds and the dominant performances on the glass from Anstey and Emma-Nnopu, Shyla Heal came off the bench to almost collect a double-double, finishing with 9 points and 9 rebounds, whilst Alexandra Fowler continued her outstanding tournament with another solid performance to finish with 6 points and 7 boards.
The Gems will be heavily favoured against Mali even after the West African side knocked off Pool A winners Latvia in the round of 16. They will not be able to rely on their rebounding as they have to this point, with the Malian side sitting behind only the USA, Germany, and the Gems themselves on the rebounding charts for the tournament.
The Australians will have a rest day on Thursday to prepare for the game, with the quarter-finals taking place on Friday, July 26, and the game to be streamed live via the Pick and Roll website and Facebook page.
Full Game Replay
Australian Gems Schedule
(all times are AEST)
July 20: Gems lost to USA, 56-79
July 21: Gems defeated Hungary, 81-71
July 23: Gems defeated Korea, 78-59
July 24: Gems defeated Colombia, 62-53
July 26: Gems v Mali, time TBD (Quarter-Finals)
July 27: Semi-Finals
July 28: Medal Games