GEMS CLAIM VICTORY AGAINST COLOMBIA TO ADVANCE TO QUARTER FINALS

GEMS CLAIM VICTORY AGAINST COLOMBIA TO ADVANCE TO QUARTER FINALS

The Gems are through to the quarter-finals of the FIBA Under-19 Women's World Cup in Thailand, after defeating Colombia 62-53. The win extends their winning streak to three games, giving them great momentum heading into the next stage of the tournament.

Written by Oliver Kay.

The Gems got off to a great start in what was a physical and bruising game at times. Both teams were unafraid to sacrifice their bodies to secure loose balls and there were multiple collisions in the opening quarter.

The Gems set the tone early with their defence, throwing double teams at Colombia's ballhandlers and pressing them hard with full-court pressure. Shyla Heal and Agnes Emma-Nnopu were outstanding on defence, Emma-Nnopu with her rebounding and Heal with her both her on and off-ball defending.

Isobel Anstey was subbed off early after collecting two early fouls, but Australia's depth in the tall department shone and Australia remained dominant on the boards. The Gem's also did a great job converting their free-throws, knocking down six of their seven attempts.

Turnovers by Australia gave Colombia some easy possessions but they were much less of an issue for the Gems than in previous games in the tournament. With eight Gems impacting the scoreboard they lead at the first break, 22-8.

Colombia came out refocused in the second quarter, going on a 7-2 run thanks to some great shooting from Mayra Caicedo. A great pick and roll connection between Isobel Anstey and Lily Scanlon finally got the Gems offence going three minutes in. From there, things began to flow much better for Australia.

Heal played a terrific quarter at both ends of the floor. She continued her great defence and scored five points at the other end, including a three-pointer.

Australia appeared to have consolidated their grip on the game. Points were coming from everywhere thanks to great ball movement that got the whole team going, Australia went into the half-time break with a huge 40-22 lead.

The third quarter began with some slick ball movement from Australia that led to another terrific Scanlon layup that pushed Australia's lead to 20 points.

There were early signs that a blowout could be on the cards, but once again Colombia's offence caught fire, triggered by a deep three-pointer from Maria Camila Alverez. With the three as a spark, Colombia went on another early quarter run, outscoring the Gems 10-2 in the opening minutes.

After a quiet start, Alexandra Fowler began to find her groove. Her offensive rebounding and scoring helped slow down the blistering pace Colombia was setting and allowed Australia to slow down their opponent's from building momentum.

Isabelle Bourne also began to impact the scoreboard. A converted and-one opportunity and beautiful turnaround post-move helped steady the ship for Australia following Colombia's onslaught. Bourne finished the game with a team-high 11 points. The quarter ended with the Gems taking a diminished 55-46 lead into the final quarter.

The fourth quarter was a grind for both teams. Both the Gems and Colombia struggled to find the bottom of the net as both squads tightened the screws on defence.

Emma-Nnopu picked up where she left off in the first quarter. Her willingness to do the little things for the team was outstanding, and she didn't back down from playing a fair but physical brand of basketball. Her work on the boards, especially on the offensive end where she finished with seven, helped to slow down the pace of the game and deny Colombia's dangerous fastbreak focused offence from getting a running start.

Full box score here.

The Gems will now play Mali in the quarter-finals on Friday at a time yet to be announced.

The Australian Gems Schedule for the 2019 FIBA Under-19 World Cup (all times AEST):

July 20: Gems def by. USA 79-56.
July 21: Gems def. Hungary 81-71.
July 23: Gems def. Korea 78-59.
July 24: Gems def. Colombia 62-53.
July 26: Quarter-Finals vs Mali TBA
July 27: Semi-Finals
July 28: Medal Games