The Australian under 19 women’s basketball team, the Gems, have defeated Mali 80-65 to remain undefeated after two games at the FIBA World Championship in the Slovak Republic.
South Australians Abby Bishop and Mia Newley scored 13 points apiece to lead the Gems while Sydney’s Ellie Manou contributed a solid 12 point, 12 rebound double-double in support.
“It was a bit of a scrappy affair and we didn’t find any rhythm at all but we still scored 80 points and got the desired result,” Gems Head Coach Dean Kinsman said.
“We’ll have to improve on that. We need to be a lot more efficient.
“Mali were a bit unorthodox. We probably didn’t handle their physicality to begin with and it took us a lot of time to adjust, but we did, so that’s the main thing.
Australia’s next game is against Sweden, who has also defeated Brazil and Mali in the preliminary round, as the Gems have.
Tip off is set for 3:45pm tomorrow local time, which is 11:45pm Saturday in Australia’s Eastern states.
An Abby Bishop free throw opened the scoring in this game but Australia trailed for most of the opening quarter before a Cayla Francis 3-pointer put the Gems ahead 18-16 after 8 minutes.
Australia’s 22-18 first quarter lead stretched to 15 points after a Nikita-Lee Martin 3-pointer and two free throws from Bishop late in the second quarter, but Mali pegged it back to eleven by half time, 38-27.
Mali continued to pound the Aussies close to the basket after the break, but the Gems were nearly flawless from the free throw line and finished the game shooting 27-from-30.
Australia’s advantage touched 21 late in the third quarter and with a period to play the Gems led 62-43, but Mali would not give up.
While Dean Kinsman rotated his players with the long tournament in mind, the Africans pushed all the way to the end and won the final quarter 22-18 but lost the match by fifteen points.
Point guard Fatoumata Bagayoko scored 21 points to lead Mali while Nagnouma Coulibaly was the game’s top rebounder with 14.
Brisbane’s Rebecca Schatz spent the game on the sideline to recuperate the sore back she sustained after a collision at training but will take the court against Sweden tomorrow.
“Schatzy took a pretty heavy knock at practice a few days ago and we decided to give her a good 24 hours to rest.
“Tomorrow is a really big game for us against Sweden. They’ve got two good guards who are sisters and the rest of the team play well together, so we’ll need to be ready.”
AUSTRALIA 80 – Newley 13, Bishop 13, Manou 12
MALI 65 – Bagoyoko 21, Toure 17, Coulibaly 13