Aussies still rule Oceania U19
Australian forward Stephanie Talbot put on a clinic to lead her Gems to a convincing 89-55 win over the Junior Tall Ferns, sealing the FIBA Oceania U19 Championship title for women and booking their spots to the world championships in Lithuania next year.
Talbot and opposite Penina Davidson dueled to a standstill for much of the night, but the Aussie had the final say, inspiring her team to a performance that all but erased their narrow escape in Game One.
Her 25 points/13 rebounds, featured 10/14 FG, 5/6 FT and seven offensive boards, while 1.96m centre Carley Mijovic had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Davidson finished just a point behind Talbot, but was the only Kiwi to fetch double figures on a night when they were thoroughly outplayed.
Obviously stung by the scare they got 24 hours earlier, when they put on the final nine points to win by seven, the Gems began with a roar. They took less than five minutes to run up a double-figure lead (14-4), with Mijovic using her height to good advantage.
A seven-point run, spearheaded by Davidson and Jaime Campbell, finally gave the home side some momentum, but three quick fouls and 5/6 from the free-throw line restored Australia’s ascendancy.
After a quarter, they were ahead 23-13 and added the first six points of the second period. This clearly wasn’t going to be the same contest it had been in Game One. The Davidson-Campbell combo was proving fruitful for the Junior Tall Ferns, sparking another seven-point roll.
But the Aussies had an answer for everything. They were 48-32 at halftime and put up the first five points of the third period to edge beyond a 20-point margin.
New Zealand actually held their own or shaded their counterparts in several stat categories at the break, forcing more turnovers, grabbing more offensive boards and attempting more shots from the field. The big difference was quality of shots – the Gems converted 20/33 (61%) and the JTFs were 13/34 (38%).
Like their male counterparts, the NZ women weren’t creating much out of their offence and relied largely on solo efforts for their scoring. While the Junior Tall Blacks rode captain Reuben Te Rangi, the JTFs’ lifeline was Davidson.
Even she was no match for Talbot, who went on a nine-point tear that took the advantage to 30 points early in the fourth quarter.
NZ forwards Deena Franklin and Stella Beck conspired to put on eight straight points and relieve the crisis somewhat, but it was never going to be enough to salvage a lost cause.
They still held their own on the offensive boards (15), forced more turnovers and attempted more shots, but could make the most of their opportunities against taller and more skilled opponents.
The Junior Tall Ferns have one more chance to dent the Gems’ reputation tomorrow, when they meet in the third dead rubber at Porirua’s Te Rauparaha Arena, starting 5.30pm.
Junior Tall Ferns 55 (Penina Davidson 24, Stella Beck 9) Australian Gems 89 FT
HT 32-48 (19-25)
Q3 41-65 (9-17)
FT 55-89 (14-24)