Gems open tournament with rout of Serbia | FIBA U19 Women's World Championship
|Olgun Uluc||Jul 19, 2015|
The Australian U19 Women's squad began the FIBA U19 Women's World Championship on a high, cruising to a 105-62 victory over a diminished Serbia side.
Alanna Smith had a game-high 18 points for the Gems, as they showed to be one of the powerhouse teams in the tournament, held in Chekhov, Russia over the next week.
The Gems have entered tournament looking to push the ball as much as possible, getting their shots up early in the shot-clock. Tahlia Tupaea opened up the scoring with a 3-pointer from the left wing, a welcome sign after struggling from the perimeter at last year's U17 World Championship.
Consecutive layups from Alicia Froling and Alanna Smith gave Australia a 12-6 lead midway through the first quarter. The introduction of Ezi Magbegor - the youngest player in the tournament, at just 15 years of age - gave the Gems a defensive lift, with her timing and length around the rim proving to be too much for the Serbians.
After a long first quarter - with both teams in foul trouble - Australia led 22-13.
The second quarter opened up with the Gems continuing to get the ball inside, with Alanna Smith doing a great job finishing around the rim. Kristy Wallace's penetration and Alicia Froling's ability to pass out of the high post saw the Gems get good looks under the rim, which they converted.
With the Gems alternating between defensive schemes throughout the quarter, Serbia was unable to find any rhythm, settling for contested perimeter jumpers.
Montana Farrah-Seaton managed to hit a 3-pointer to end the half, with the Gems entering the main break with a 55-31 lead. Smith had a game-high 12 points, while Alex Sharp contributed with a relatively quiet 7 points and 6 rebounds.
The second half began in the same fashion as the first, with a Tupaea 3-pointer. Tupaea was limited in the first half due to foul trouble, but she made her mark to start the third quarter - converting on some crafty passes, leading to easy looks at the rim for her fellow Gems.
Smith also continued her dominance inside the paint, the Stanford signee scoring five quick points at the start of the quarter.
After another dominant showing on both ends of the floor, the Gems were cruising - finishing the third quarter with a 79-40 lead.
Magbegor began the fourth quarter with back-to-back buckets inside the paint, whilst remaining solid as a defensive presence. Chantel Horvat was also proving to be a key two-way player for the Gems in the fourth period, making high-IQ plays on the offensive end, as well as using her versatility to guard multiple positions on the other end of the floor.
Kristy Wallace - who did a tremendous job as the lead-guard throughout the game - went on an individual 5-0 run to see Australia hit the century mark, extending their lead to 100-55.
The Gems would ultimately come away as 105-62 victors. Alanna Smith posted a game-high 18 points, along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists, while Kristy Wallace had an impressive 12 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.
Watch a full replay of the game below. The boxscore can be found here.
The Gems will face Brazil during Sunday's action, tipping off at 8:30pm (AEST). Make sure to stay tuned with our coverage, as we provide reports, previews, as well as links to live stats and live streams.