The Gems opening game at the 2019 FIBA Under 19 World could not have been any tougher, with the USA grinding out a tough 79-56 win in Bangok, Thailand.
A 21-4 third quarter proved the difference, with the American's blowing open the game through restricting the Gems scoring and taking an imposing 21 point lead into the final quarter. While Australia regrouped down the stretch, they could not claw back the margin and eventually found themselves on the wrong end of a 23 point loss.
Australia boasted just two players who scored in double figures, with Lily Scanlon adding 12 points on 4 of 8 shooting with 3 rebounds, while Jazmin Shelley managed 11 points (5-10 FG) and 4 rebounds before fouling out in just over 24 minutes.
The USA opened the game strongly, scoring the first four points of the game. Shelley opened Australia's account via a layup to get things underway. The Gems had trouble finding the bottom of the net - something that would plague them all game - with the US taking advantage to pull away by 9 points late in the first period. However Shelley and then Sam Simons and Scanlon reignited the scoring, closing the margin to just 4 points at the end of the quarter.
An arm wrestle ensured in the second, with the US managed to gain the upper hand. And while they continually threatened the pull away, Australia hung tough to keep within striking distance. Consecutive three-pointers to Scanlon as half time approached saw the scores locked at 32. Yet missed opportunities cost Australia any chance of stealing a half time lead, with the USA edging ahead by 4 points via a late layup moments before the buzzer.
It took the Gems almost 4 minutes to score their first points of the second half, thankfully ending a 10-0 run by the Americans. In what proved to be a horror term for the Australians, they would not score again until the 1:34 mark of the period via Alexandra Fowler. The Gems scored just 4 points for the period, while turning the ball over a staggering 9 times as the USA lifted a gear and placed the Gems under intense pressure.
Trailing by 21 points at the final change, the lead would be extended to 25 before Agness Emma-Nnopu sank two free throws. The Gems would battle back bravely to only lose the quarter by 2 points, for a final margin of 23 points.
Neither team shot the ball well. The Americans shooting at 32.9 per cent (29-88 FG) from the field and 61.5 per cent (16-28 FT) from the free throw line, but Australia were even lower at 27.7% per cent (18-65 FG) and 62.5 per cent (15-24 FT) in comparison. The Gems gave up 22 turnovers, 9 of those in the third period, with the USA committing 13 of their own. The USA's dominant scoring in the paint hurt the Aussies too, outscoring them 48-24 in that area.
Australia will be looking to bounce back in their next game against world number 14 ranked Hungary on Sunday, with the game live streamed 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 vs. Hungary at 3:15pm
July 23: Gems vs. Korea at 3:00pm
July 24: Round of 16
July 26: Quarter-Finals
July 27: Semi-Finals
July 28: Medal Games