Despite heading into the contest as favourite, it was a hard-fought victory for the Gems, holding off a Chinese team that closed the margin to just three points in the closing minutes.
Two-consecutive clutch baskets and steals from Stephanie Talbot took Australia’s advantage from 62-59 to 67-59 in the blink of an eye, helping to secure the win and guarantee the Gems a shot at playing for a medal.
The performance typified Talbot’s all-round contribution throughout the game, and the tournament, as she finished with 22 points (at 50 per cent field goal accuracy), 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks.
Alex Wilson also put up a solid double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, to go along with 5 assists, while Carley Mijovic and Casey Samuels each added 13 points for the victors.
Tahlia Tupaea did an excellent job running the point-guard position, finishing with 8 points and 6 assists.
Meng Li came off the bench to knock down 5 three-points baskets for China, on the way to a game-high 28 points, while Liting Zhang added 16 points and Jiahe Zhang added 14 points.
It was a low-scoring start to the contest, China holding a 6-5 lead after 6 minutes of action in the opening term, before the Gems settled offensively, to take a 17-10 quarter-time lead.
China responded to outscore the Aussies in the second term, 14-13, as Meng Li started to ignite from long-range. Carley Mijovic added 9 points in the quarter for the Gems, who took a 30-24 at halftime.
Led by Stephanie Talbot with 10 points and Casey Samuels with 8 points respectively for the quarter, the Gems were able to build a double-digit advantage in the third term, before eventually taking a 50-41 lead into the final quarter.
China would not lie down, led by J.Zhang and L.Zhang, who combined to score their side’s first 18 points of the term, the Gems advantage was cut to 62-59, before Stephanie Talbot, Alex Wilson and Tahlia Tupaea combined expertly on both ends of the floor, to steady the ship, and guide the Aussies to victory.
Next up for the Gems is a Semi Final showdown against the undefeated USA, who easily accounted for Japan, 108-67, in their Quarter Final meeting last night. Spain and France will square off in the other Semi Final match-up.
The Australia V USA match tips off on Sunday morning at 3:15AM AEST. Follow the game and all the Aussie results at www.lithuania2013.fiba.com
Australian Gems 74 (Talbot 22, Mijovic 13, Samuels 13) defeated China 65 (Meng Li 28, Liting Zhang 16)