Having committed 22 turnovers and shot a dismal 27.7% from the field in their loss to the United States on Saturday, the Gems rebounded to pick up a hard-fought 81-71 win over Hungary.
The Australians committed just eight turnovers and turned in a much improved shooting performance, but the highlight was the performance on the boards as the Gems outrebounded Hungary 59-37.
Confronted with the Australian front court rotation of Isobel Anstey, Isabelle Bourne, and Alexandra Fowler, Hungary all but abandoned any semblance of an inside game at the offensive end early in the piece. Bombing away from well outside the arc, the Hungarians found only moderate success as the Gems slowly began to establish dominance in the first quarter and move out to an 8-3 advantage midway through the opening term.
The injection of Shyla Heal into the lineup out of the timeout helped the Gems to push the pace in the short term, with the Australians jumping away to a 17-10 lead. However, with Anstey not patrolling the paint in the latter stages of the quarter, the Hungarians chose their moments to take the ball inside and complement their improving outside shooting, putting together a 7-0 run to finish the opening term tied at 17-17.
A blistering start to the second quarter saw the Gems open up a 24-18 advantage as Anstey and Fowler dominated the boards, with Australia not giving up a single offensive rebound in the first 13 minutes of the game. But once again a timeout saw Hungary bounce back, hitting 4 of their first 8 attempts from deep to keep their score ticking over and maintain closeness with the Australians. However, time and again the Gems’ dominance on the glass proved their saviour, with 17 of their points in the first half coming via second chance opportunities as they took a 44-33 lead into halftime.
The first half also saw seven of the ten Australians who took the court make a trip to the free throw line as the Gems guards attacked the paint repeatedly, putting Hungary under intense pressure as the team finished the first half 13 of 17 from the line. However, it took NBA Basketball Without Borders three-point champion Gemma Potter knocking down a late shot to get the Gems even one in the three-point column after missing their first five attempts from deep.
Potter’s three may not have kickstarted the Gems’ perimeter shooting, but an and-one from Fowler to start the second half put the Australians up 14. However, a committed Hungarian side kept the Gems from adding to their score for four minutes as third quarter jitters once again plagued the Australians after a subpar performance out of halftime against the US the previous day. Soon enough, that stumble out of the blocks began to catch up with the Australians, as their advantage was whittled down to five points before a timeout put the brakes on Hungary’s charge and saw the Gems take a 56-50 lead into the final quarter.
Fowler utilised her physicality on multiple occasions early in the fourth quarter to keep the Gems just out of Hungary’s reach as the game approached crunch time with the margin still hovering around the five-point mark. Having started the game 1 of 12 from deep, the Gems somehow managed to bury a trio of consecutive three-pointers to hold a 70-63 advantage with four minutes to play, but with Anstey and Fowler each on four fouls, any single moment could be game-changing at this point.
With Anstey on the bench, Fowler took it upon herself to lead from the front, continuing a mammoth game that would see the University of Portland signee rack up a 19-point, 17-rebound double-double, including 10 offensive boards. Hungary remained within eight points with two minutes to play, but would get no closer as the Gems rounded out an 81-71 victory, committing just eight turnovers and forcing Hungary to cough up 17 of their own.
Fowler’s performance was the obvious standout, whilst Isabelle Bourne and Gemma Potter also hit double figures with 15 and 12 points respectively. Lily Scanlon tallied 9 points and 8 rebounds, whilst Isobel Anstey collected 11 rebounds alongside her six points as the Gems outrebounded Hungary 59-37 in a dominant performance on the glass.
The Gems will now face Korea in their final pool game on Tuesday, with the contest set to decide the second-place finisher in Group C behind the dominant US side. That game, and all Gems World Cup games will be live streamed via The Pick and Roll website and Facebook Page.
Full Game Replay
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 vs. Korea at 3:00pm
July 24: Round of 16 - Gems vs. Colombia, 5:15pm AEST
July 26: Quarter-Finals
July 27: Semi-Finals
July 28: Medal Games