Powered by an unstoppable Alexandra Fowler, the Gems secured their first win of the 2019 FIBA Under-19 Women’s World Cup with a dominant 81-71 win over Hungary in Bangkok.
Written by Oliver Kay.
The first quarter was a back and forth affair. It was all the Australians in the opening minutes as the Gems got off to a hot start. They jumped out to a quick lead with some early trips to the free-throw line from Jaz Shelley and Alexandra Fowler.
The Gems set the tone early with their physical work in the paint and appeared to have Hungary rattled. Australia worked hard securing rebounds, with five of the team’s twelve boards grabbed by Anstey alone.
Things were all going the Gems way until Hungary’s shooters found their range at the midway point of the quarter. Hungary made a trio of three-pointers in the first period, and with time ticking down Reka Dombai made a clutch two-point jump shot to give them the lead going into the break, 18-17.
After giving up their lead, the Gems really began to throw their weight around in the second quarter, outscoring Hungary 15-27. There was a concerted effort to get early penetration, as they fed the ball to Fowler and Anstey whenever possible. Fowler made the most out of her chances, ending the half with nine points and shooting 3/4 from the free-throw line.
Isobel Anstey also had a big second quarter, finishing the half with eight rebounds.
After finding their winning formula in the second period, the Gems went straight back to work at the start of the second half. Australia’s guards, led by Jaz Shelley, continued to push the ball into the paint, allowing Fowler to continue doing her work inside.
Isabella Bourne also got into the action and was pivotal in fuelling the Gems constant trips to the free-throw line. In the third quarter alone Australia went to the line nine times, cashing in on six.
However, once again, it was Hungary’s use of the jump shot that kept them in the game. Unleashing a barrage of two’s and three’s Hungary was able to quickly close the gap, coming within five points of Australia at the three-minute mark of the third term.
It was some timely shots from Shelley that wrestled back momentum from Hungary, giving the Gems a 56-50 lead going into the final quarter.
The final ten minutes of the game belonged to Fowler as seven of her 19 points came in the last stretch. Her terrific offensive rebounding kept Australia’s offence moving when the pace slowed down early on. Ten of her 17 rebounds were offensive.
Hungary once again made a late surge off the back of their shooting, but it was too little too late.
The Gems will now play their final group game against Korea on Tuesday at 3pm AEST.
Full box score here.
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 vs. Korea at 3pm
July 24: Round of 16
July 26: Quarter-Finals
July 27: Semi-Finals
July 28: Medal Games