Turnover woes can't keep Gems from defeating Korea at World Cup

Despite coughing up the ball a perplexing 32 times, a dominant 71-28 rebound count helped the Gems defeat Korea 78-59 and secure second spot in Pool C in the Under 19 World Cup. Alexandra Fowler’s second consecutive double-double led the way for the Gems, with five players finishing in double figures.

The Gems made a change to their starting lineup, bringing Gemma Potter into the side despite Alexandra Fowler’s 17-point, 15-rebound performance against Hungary, and the new-look starting five jumped away to an early 14-8 lead as the Gems ran with smaller lineups in the early stages.

With the Gems’ speed on the perimeter playing havoc with the Korean offence, and Isobel Anstey and Fowler splitting time patrolling the paint, only star forward Jihyun Park found any real success for Korea early in the contest, connecting on three of her first five shots as the remainder of the team hit just one of their first eight. At the other end, Anstey tallied 8 points in the first quarter, and although Korea cut an 8-point deficit to three at one point, the Gems hit back late in the piece to lead 22-15 after a quarter.

A disjointed opening to the second quarter from the Gems culminated in a pair of quick threes for Korea and an Australian timeout just 57 seconds into the term. Two more turnovers followed the timeout, but mercifully Korea were unable to capitalise before the Gems managed a couple of baskets in quick succession. But with 13 turnovers in the first 15 minutes of play, only a stark disparity in shooting percentages kept the Gems ahead as the Koreans hovered around 30% from the field for much of the term. But a cold shooting streak late in the quarter spelled trouble for the Gems, and when Korea knocked down their fourth three of the contest, they had taken the lead as turnovers continued to plague the Gems, who would go into the locker room trailing 30-29.

An early Lily Scanlon lay-up to open the second half restored the Gems’ advantage, but the turnover issue remained, preventing the Australians from creating any kind of momentum as neither team was able to create any separation on the scoreboard in the early minutes of the third quarter. But with the Korean side racking up fouls at an alarming rate, they were forced to run slightly deeper than the seven-player rotation they had utilised in the first half and the Australians quickly took advantage to jump out to a 41-36 advantage and force a Korean timeout as Anstey and Fowler began to dominate proceedings inside at the offensive end. Despite the turnovers continuing to mount, the Gems’ ability to counter for that in other ways, particularly on the glass, allowed them to build a healthy advantage in the latter stages of the third quarter, taking a 52-45 lead into the final term courtesy of a 48-20 rebounding advantage.

A 7-0 run to open the final term helped the Gems move out to a double-digit lead as the Korean side struggled with foul trouble and the Australians began to improve their ball security to a degree. With the Australians increasing their aggressiveness on offence as the fourth quarter continued, Korea were forced to go far deeper into their bench they appeared ready to, with the margin quickly growing as the Australians dominated the latter stages. Gems coach Dee Butler emptied the bench in the final minutes as all 12 members of the Gems roster saw playing time, with ten players tallying points in a 78-59 victory.

Despite 32 turnovers, the Gems out-rebounded Korea 71-28 to counter those turnover woes. Alexandra Fowler once again led the way statistically for the Gems, finishing with 15 points on 5 of 8 shooting and 10 rebounds, whilst Isobel Anstey added 12 points and 11 rebounds and Jazmin Shelley contributed 11 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists. Miela Goodchild and Isabelle Bourne both provided solid scoring performances off the bench, tallying 10 points apiece.

The Gems will now face the third-place team in Group D in the Round of 16 on Wednesday, with that game to be streamed live via The Pick and Roll website and Facebook page.

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Recaps of each game will be made available via The Pick and Roll, the online home of #AussieHoops.

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: Round of 16 - Gems vs. Colombia, 5:15pm

July 26: Quarter-Finals

July 27: Semi-Finals

July 28: Medal Games